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Braitenberg Vehicles

Braitenberg vehicles are the product of thought experiments described in Valentino Braitenberg's book "Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology" (MIT Press, 1984). The thought experiments show the type of complex "life-like" behaviour that can be produced by connecting sensors to actuators with very simple, parallel (neuron like) computing elements. The vehicles illustrate that complex behaviour can arise through distributed simple interactions rather than a central complex brain.


The most commonly cited of Braitenberg's vehicles have two motors and two sensors arranged as shown in the figure here (which is copied from p. 8 of the paperback edition of Braitenberg's book). The thought experiment suggests that Vehicle 2a will avoid sources, while 2b will attack them. There are many more thought provoking examples in the book, which I thoroughly recommend that you read.

Simulation

The Braitenberg Vehicle Simulator - Vehicles - is a tool for exploring the nature of intelligent behaviour. In itself, Vehicles is an elegant 3d graphical display tool integrated with a 2.5d physics engine and a sophisticated neural network processor. Vehicles is configured using an easy-to-learn vehicle language that enables the user to create and modify vehicles and specify the world in which the vehicles live. The simulator includes a number of vehicle language files that replicate the thought experiments described in the book for Vehicles 1 through 5. Vehicles currently runs on Windows platforms using Open-GL for the graphics engine.

The download links to a ZIP file. Documentation that describes the installation and use of the simulator is in the Vehicles/Documentation directory within the ZIP file.

Download Vehicles: Braitenberg Vehicle Simulator

Google book link to "Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology"

Wikipedia entry on Braitenberg Vehicles

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