A Hormone-Driven Epigenetic Mechanism for Adaptation in Autonomous Robots

John Lones, Matthew Lewis, Lola Cañamero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
297 Downloads (Pure)


Different epigenetic mechanisms provide biological organisms with the ability to adjust their physiology and/or morphology and adapt to a wide range of challenges posed by their environments. In particular, one type of epigenetic process, in which hormone concentrations are linked to the regulation of hormone receptors, has been shown to have implications for behavioral development. In this paper, taking inspiration from these biological processes, we investigate whether an epigenetic model based on the concept of hormonal regulation of receptors can provide a similarly robust and general adaptive mechanism for autonomous robots. We have implemented our model using a Koala robot, and tested it in a series of experiments in six different environments with varying challenges to negotiate. Our results, including the emergence of varied behaviors that permit the robot to exploit its current environment, demonstrate the potential of our epigenetic model as a general mechanism for adaptation in autonomous robots.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-454
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems
Issue number2
Early online date20 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Allostasis
  • autonomous robot
  • emergent behavior
  • epigenetic development
  • hormonal modulation


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