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Morphological Plasticity for the Design, Control, and Deployment of Complex Engineering Systems

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Technical Report,01 May 2016,30 Apr 2019

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University of Vermont Burlington United States

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Major Goals Recent advances in materials science and fabrication technology have made possible the construction of thermodynamically open, complex engineered systems That is, systems in which not only energy but matter as well may be added, removed or changed throughout the systems lifetime. For such systems to perform useful work, their properties must not only be understood but optimized. Optimizing a system that may form a continuum of rigid and soft componentsand in which this admixture may change over timeis extremely non-intuitive and underexplored. Thus, our overall scientific objective here was to imbue artificial, thermodynamically open systems with morphological andor neurological plasticity and study the systems resulting properties. Such a study enabled us to optimize these systems to perform useful work. Accomplishments To meet this objective, three scientific questions were addressed 1. What is the adaptive benefit of morphological plasticity for an ATOS, compared to an equivalent system that adapts to its environment only through neurological plasticity This question is being addressed by performing a series of AB tests in which two sets of ATOSs are optimized those that have access only to neurological plasticity the control, and the other which has access to both morphological and neurological plasticity the treatment. 2. How can an optimized ATOS capable of morphological plasticity be automatically and gradually reduced to a system of equivalent capability, but is thermodynamically closed In all of the work in this contract, only theoretical models and simulated systems are being investigated. Until physical ATOSs are feasible, simulated, morphologically plastic ATOSs are being simulated and optimized such that they are gradually reduced to simulated, morphologically fixed systems, after which they may be manufactured as physical, morphologically fixed systems. However, this actual manufacture is beyond the scope of this project

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  • Cybernetics

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