Originated by Mark W. Tilden of Sandia National Laboratories in Los Alamos, New Mexico, BEAM robotics stands for "Biology Electronics Aesthetics Mechanics." BEAM robotics has spawned a movement of grassroots roboticists who compete in international competitions to see whose creation can best weather obstacle courses .
The BEAM philosophy is based on the idea that large, heuristically driven Artificial Intelligences can't evolve very quickly. BEAM solves the problem by encouraging enterprising inventors to 'cannibalize' electronic junk: pocket calculators, old diodes and batteries.
This distinctly lo-fi approach to robotics relies on simple neural networks, control circuitry that can lead to emergent behavior. Because they are cheap, the sheer volume of competition teases out the best designs in what amounts to a Natural Selection of sorts .
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