Evolving Behavior with Braitenberg Vehicles


January 3-5, 2023


This course aims to trace the evolution from bacteria to complex animals through experiments on Arduino robots. You will find out how changes in the environment and an organism’s structure affects its behavior. By building your own Arduino robot and implementing some algorithms, you will be guided into the world of robotics!


 What is evolution? What drives evolution? In his influential book, “Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology” Valentino Braitenberg tackles these questions. In a series of thought experiments, he constructs vehicles with a very simple design that seems to show a gradually expanding repertoire of emotions and behaviors. Subsequent vehicles start to exhibit more complex behaviors up to the point when they seem to possess free will and show elaborate social relations.

In our workshop, we will follow a similar path. Our robots will be a metaphor for living organisms. We will start by implementing chemotaxis and then we will recreate further steps of evolution. Our robots will grow bigger, acquire more sensors, and get more complicated algorithms to adapt better to the changing environment. This will help them get food more efficiently, avoid toxins and predators, and have better relations with their conspecifics.

Every step will be accompanied by an introduction and real-life motivation for its implementation. We can’t wait to meet you at the workshop!

The workshop will take place 10:00 AM – 6:45 PM, January 3-5, 2023. The cost of the workshop is PLN 150. Please find the application form HERE. The deadline for the application is December 5th, 2022.

The workshop is organized in cooperation between the Nencki Open Lab School of Ideas in Neuroscience and Human Interaction and Language Lab, University of Warsaw.

TA’s: Mateusz Kostecki (Nencki Institute), Katarzyna Skowrońska (University of Warsaw), Daniel Kozłowski (University of Warsaw), Michał Lendzion (University of Warsaw), Cezary Paziewski (University of Warsaw, Nencki Institute)