Skip to main content

Designing Toys That Come Alive: Curious Robots for Creative Play

  • Conference paper

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNISA,volume 5309)


Creative thinking requires imagination, creativity, play, sharing and reflection. This paper presents an architecture for a curious, reconfigurable robot that encourages creative design thinking by permitting designed structures to learn behaviours. These behaviours encourage designers to play with different structures, reflect on the relationship between structure and behaviour and imagine new structures. A demonstration of the architecture is described using the Lego Mindstorms platform. The demonstration shows how a curious robot can adapt new behaviours in response to changes in its structure, and how this can encourage the creative thinking spiral and creative design.


  • Curiosity
  • motivated reinforcement learning
  • robots
  • creative design
  • creative play


  1. Boden, M.: The creative mind, myths and mechanisms. Wiedenfield/Nicholson, London (1991)

    Google Scholar 

  2. Gero, J.S.: Creativity, emergence and evolution in design. In: Second International Roundtable Conference on Computational Models of Creative Design, Australia, pp. 1–28 (1992)

    Google Scholar 

  3. Kim, S.H.: Essence of creativity. Oxford University Press, New York (1990)

    Google Scholar 

  4. Marsland, S., Nehmzow, U., Shapiro, J.: A real-time novelty detector for a mobile robot. In: EUREL European Advanced Robotics Systems Masterclass and Conference (2000)

    Google Scholar 

  5. Merrick, K., Maher, M.-L.: Motivated reinforcement learning for adaptive characters in open-ended simulation games. In: ACM SIGCHI International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology (ACE 2007), Salzburg, Austria, pp. 127–134 (2007)

    Google Scholar 

  6. Oudeyer, P.-Y.: Intelligent adaptive curiosity: a source of self-development. In: Proceedings of the fourth international workshop on epigenetic robotics, pp. 127–130 (2004)

    Google Scholar 

  7. Resnick, M.: Sowing the seeds for a more creative society, Learning and Leading with Technology. International Society for Technology in Education, pp. 18–22 (2007)

    Google Scholar 

  8. Russel, S., Norvig, P.: Artificial intelligence a modern approach. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs (1995)

    MATH  Google Scholar 

  9. Schmidhuber, J.: Curious model building control systems. In: International Joint Conference on Artificial Neural Networks, pp. 1458–1463. IEEE, Singapore

    Google Scholar 

  10. Sternberg, R.: The nature of creativity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1988)

    Google Scholar 

  11. Watkins, C., Dayan, P.: Q-learning. Machine Learning 8(3), 270–292 (1992)

    MATH  Google Scholar 

  12. Wundt, W.: Principles of physiological psychology. Macmillan, New York (1910)

    Google Scholar 

  13. Yim, M., Duff, D., Roufas, K.: Polybot: a modular, reconfigurable robot. In: Proceedings of the 2000 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, CA, pp. 514–520 (2000)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2008 IFIP International Federation for Information Processing

About this paper

Cite this paper

Merrick, K. (2008). Designing Toys That Come Alive: Curious Robots for Creative Play. In: Stevens, S.M., Saldamarco, S.J. (eds) Entertainment Computing - ICEC 2008. ICEC 2008. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 5309. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-540-89221-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-540-89222-9

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)