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Developmental Robotics: and the importance of Psychology. Mark Lee Aberystwyth, Wales. Acknowledgements. Martin H ülse , Tao Geng , Mike Sheldon, James Wilson, Patricia Shaw, James Law, Sebastian McBride Fei Chao, Qinggang Meng , Tom Izzett …

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Developmental robotics and the importance of psychology

Developmental Robotics: and the importance of Psychology

Mark Lee

Developmental robotics and the importance of psychology

Aberystwyth, Wales



  • Martin Hülse, Tao Geng, Mike Sheldon, James Wilson, Patricia Shaw, James Law, Sebastian McBride

  • Fei Chao, QinggangMeng, Tom Izzett …

  • And partners in Reverb, Rossi, Im-CleVeR …

    Funding:EPSRC (DVL & Reverb)

    EC FP7 (Rossi & ImCleVr)

Advanced robotics key requirements

Advanced Robotics: Key requirements

  • Adaptive behaviour

  • Cumulative learning from experience

  • Autonomous handling of new situations

  • Growth of competence

  • Key words: Autonomy & Growth



  • No really intelligent robots yet exist

  • Classical AI has been insufficient

  • Development is essential for human learning

  • Development may be essential for robot learning if we wish to capture similar performance

Biologically inspired robotics

Biologically Inspired Robotics

  • Anatomical- structural and process models of systems

  • Evolutional- growth and change within a species

  • Developmental - adaptive growth and change in the individual

Inspiration from alan turing

Inspiration from Alan Turing

“Instead of trying to produce a programme to simulate the adult mind, why not rather try to produce one which simulates the child's? If this were then subjected to an appropriate course of education, one would obtain the adult brain [...]”

A.M. Turing, Mind, 59, 433-460, 1950

Key issues and observations

Key issues and observations

  • Stages (in behaviour)

  • Constraints – many sources

  • Shaping – by constraint & interaction

  • Cumulative learning

  • Intrinsic motivation

  • Intrinsic activity (motor babbling)

  • Goal-free or goal-driven

Motor babbling and play

Motor babbling and Play

  • Motor activity:

  • - produces inputs from sensors

  • - provokes the environment

  • gives new viewpoints

  • Infant play - Essential behaviour

Infant play

Infant play

Motor babbling in infants

Motor babbling in infants

  • sucking

  • eye movements

  • head rolling

  • facial expressions

  • body and limb kicking actions

  • reaching

  • touching

Our approach

Our approach

  • Use salience array for stimuli selection

  • Motor babbling when quiescent

  • When actions correlate with stimulus,

    try to repeat exact action

  • Noise and natural variation will test extent of new stimulus/action correlation.

  • Those correlations that withstand repeated action can be recorded in mappings, associations, or other means.

Our framework

Our framework

Computational substrate: sensory-motor mappings

Bidirectional linking of SM maps, learned through Hebbian correspondence

Produces egocentric SM space

Learning sensor motor mappings

Learning sensor-motor mappings

Learning saccadic eye movements

retina space

relative gaze space

With Fei Chao

Learning sensor motor mappings1

Learning sensor-motor mappings

Hand-eye coordination

abs. gaze space

reach space

2.0 +/- 1.0 cm

With Martin Hülse,

Sebastian McBride

Implemented on icub robot

Implemented on iCub robot

Infant to icub development

Infant (to iCub) development

Survey and study of literature on infant development

Constructed a timeline of activity from conception to 12 months

Prepared similar development chart for iCub

Constructed constraint network and identified dependencies

Developmental robotics and the importance of psychology

Infant vision development

Developmental robotics and the importance of psychology

Infant vision development

  • Increase in image resolution (birth to 12 months)

  • Widening field of view (6-10 weeks, 20-40 degrees)

  • Increased sensitivity to stimulus (birth to 6 months)

  • Increased Image transfer rate (birth to 3 months)

  • Increased focal range (1 to 2 months), initially ~21cm

  • Increased colour resolution (birth to 4 months)

  • Stereopsis onset and improvement (3 to 12 months)

  • Migration of rods and cones – At birth the distribution of rods and cones is roughly uniform, with migration to adult positions occurring over the first 11 years. Fastest migration occurs 2-3 months after birth.

Developmental robotics and the importance of psychology

Partial development sequence for an iCub - motor aspects

A constraint network

A constraint network

Behaviour on the icub robot

Behaviour on the iCub robot

Integrated architecture

Integrated architecture


Saccadic eye movements


Integrated architecture1

Integrated architecture


Head and eye movements

Hand-eye coordination


Integrated architecture2

Integrated architecture



Arm movements

Hand regard

Hand-eye coordination


Integrated architecture3

Integrated architecture



Hand movement

Grasp control



Integrated architecture4

Integrated architecture


two arm coordination







Stages seen in following video

Stages seen infollowing video

1 – early eye saccade learning

2 – later part of above stage

3 – early head movement learning

4 – better head control at later part of above stage

5 – hand regard behaviour (combining gaze and reach spaces)

6 – Early reaching (plus hand regard)

7 – Reaching with stimulus lights included

8 – more accurate reaching?

Developmental growth in icub

Developmental growth in iCub

Icub development

iCub development

Initial learning trials

  • Eye saccades4 minutes 25 fixations

  • Head rotation9 minutes 45 fixations

  • Arm reaching10 minutes 22 locations



Play and babbling – notrandom behaviour,

nota side-effect of learning

Goals can be created – not given

(where would they come from?)

Solitary and socialshaping - both vital

Akey principle for autonomous development?

Advantages of this approach

Advantages of this Approach

  • Intrinsic activity: significant principle

  • Autonomous, generates experience

  • Unsupervised,incremental, continuous and cumulative learning

  • Self calibration

  • Shaping: main interaction mode

  • Efficient: very fast learning/adapting

The future

The Future ?

Two types of robot:

  • Developmental

  • Task based

The future1

The Future ?

  • No programming - only training (in the world)

  • Customised in situ.

  • Experience resides in systems, but all different,

    (sets of individuals).

    service centre = robot remedial school,

    programs of corrective shaping.

    But we can also examine brain!

    so transferable skills?

Thank you for your attention

Thank you for your Attention!

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