A research team led by Cornell University's Creative Machines Lab has created a computer algorithm that simulates virtual creatures evolving their squishy, muscle-like features in order to teach themselves to walk.
The team incorporated concepts from developmental biology and how nature builds complex animals – from jellyfish to jaguars.
The result is an array of bizarre, simulated robots that evolve a diverse series of gaits and gallops.
As you can see in the video above, a creature evolves into a galloping, soft robot over 1,000 generations. While 1,000 generations is relatively short by natural evolution standards, it is apparently sufficient to demonstrate the power of evolution to create counterintuitive designs.