Date: 13 Dec 2012

Embryomorphic Engineering: Emergent Innovation Through Evolutionary Development

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Embryomorphic Engineering, a particular instance of Morphogenetic Engineering, takes its inspiration directly from biological development to create new robotic, software or network architectures by decentralized self-assembly of elementary agents. At its core, it combines three key principles of multicellular embryogenesis: chemical gradient diffusion (providing positional information to the agents), gene regulatory networks (triggering their differentiation into types, thus patterning), and cell division or aggregation (creating structural constraints, thus reshaping). This chapter illustrates the potential of Embryomorphic Engineering in different spaces: 2D/3D physical swarms, which can find applications in collective robotics, synthetic biology or nanotechnology; and \(n\)D graph topologies, which can find applications in distributed software and peer-to-peer techno-social networks. In all cases, the specific genotype shared by all the agents makes the phenotype’s complex architecture and function modular, programmable and reproducible.