Developmental robotics

Developmental Robotics (DevRob), sometimes called epigenetic robotics, is a methodology that uses metaphors from developmental psychology to develop controllers for autonomous robots. The focus is on a single robot going through stages of autonomous mental development. Researchers in this field study artificial emotions, self-motivation, and other methods of self-organization.

DevRob is related to, but differs from, evolutionary robotics (ER). ER uses populations of robots that evolve over time, whereas DevRob is interested in how the organization of a single robot's control system develops through experience, over time.

DevRob is also related to work done in the domains of Robotics, Artificial Life.

Similar to developmental robotics, Epigenetic robotics is an interdisciplinary research area with the goal of understanding biological systems by the integration between neuroscience, developmental psychology and engineering sciences. Epigenetic systems are characterized by a prolonged developmental process through which varied and complex cognitive and perceptual structures emerge as a result of the interaction of an embodied system with a physical and social environment. An additional goal is to enable robots to autonomously develop skills for any particular environment instead of programming them for a specific environment.


DevRob was first proposed with Weng et al.s Autonomous mental development by robots and animals. Science 291:599 600.

The first undergraduate courses in DevRob were offered at Bryn Mawr College and Swarthmore College in the Spring of 2003 by Douglas Blank and Lisa Meeden, respectively.

The first graduate course in DevRob was offered at Iowa State University by Alexander Stoytchev in the Fall of 2005.

Links and further Information

Academic institutions and researchers in the field

Main Conferences

  • Epigentic Robotics:
  • Developmental Robotics:

Blogs and Other Links

  • Developing Intelligence:
  • Developmental Robotics: : general information about developmental robotics
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