31 December 2021
Neural cellular automata (Neural CA) are a recent framework used to model biological phenomena emerging from multicellular organisms. In these systems, artificial neural networks are used as update rules for cellular automata. Neural CA are end-to-end differentiable systems where the parameters of the neural network can be learned to achieve a particular task. In this work, we used neural CA to control a cart-pole agent. The observations of the environment are transmitted in input cells while the values of output cells are used as a readout of the system. We trained the model using deep-Q learning where the states of the output cells were used as the Q-value estimates to be optimized. We found that the computing abilities of the cellular automata were maintained over several hundreds of thousands of iterations, producing an emergent stable behavior in the environment it controls for thousands of steps. Moreover, the system demonstrated life-like phenomena such as a developmental phase, regeneration after damage, stability despite a noisy environment, and robustness to unseen disruption such as input deletion.
Cite this article
A. Variengien, S. Pontes-Filho, T. E. Glover, S. Nichele, "Towards Self-organized Control: Using Neural Cellular Automata to Robustly Control a Cart-pole Agent", Innovations in Machine Intelligence (IMI), vol. 1, pp. 1-14, 2021. DOI: 10.54854/imi2021.01