The Design, Education and Evolution of a Robotic Baby

Hanqing Zhu, Sean Wilson, Eric Feron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Inspired by Alan Turing's idea of a child machine, in this article, we introduce the formal definition of a robotic baby, an integrated system with minimal world knowledge at birth, capable of learning incrementally and interactively, and adapting to the world. Within the definition, fundamental capabilities and system characteristics of the robotic baby are identified and presented as the system-level requirements. As a minimal viable prototype, the Baby architecture is proposed with a systems engineering design approach to satisfy the system-level requirements, which has been verified and validated with simulations and experiments on a robotic system. We demonstrate the capabilities of the robotic baby in natural language acquisition and semantic parsing in English and Chinese, as well as in natural language grounding, natural language reinforcement learning, natural language programming, and system introspection for explainability. The education and evolution of the robotic baby are illustrated with real-world robotic demonstrations. Inspired by the genetic inheritance in human beings, knowledge inheritance in robotic babies and its benefits regarding evolution are discussed.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalIEEE Transactions on Robotics
StatePublished - Feb 28 2023

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-03-03

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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