Unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) are well suited to tasks that are either too dangerous or too monotonous for people. For example, UGVs can traverse arduous terrain in search of disaster victims. However, it is difficult to design these systems so that they perform well in a variety of different environments. In this study, we evolve controllers and physical characteristics of a UGV with transformable wheels to improve its mobility in a simulated environment. The UGV's mission is to visit a sequence of coordinates while automatically handling obstacles of varying sizes by extending wheel struts radially outward from the center of each wheel. Evolved finite state machines (FSMs) and artificial neural networks (ANNs) are compared, and a set of controller design principles are gathered from analyzing these experiments. Results show similar performance between FSM and ANN controllers but differing strategies. Finally, we show that a UGV's controller and physical characteristics can be effectively chosen by examining results from evolutionary optimization.


Computer Science

Document Type




Rights Information

© 2018 the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Publication Date


Journal Title