Humans beat AI in robot wars

Virtual robots created by computers have taken on human-designed opponents in an online experiment

Human innovation has fought off competition from robots created using artificial intelligence in an online experiment by boffins at a London university.

The online Sodarace competition, created by the Queen Mary University of London, pitched virtual robots created by humans against those designed by artificial intelligence.

Computer Science students at the university fed a basic wheel design into an AI program to breed the best racer over a hilly course while a team in Austria gave AI a free hand in developing a flat-ground racer, which resulted in weird computer-generated stick-insect type creatures.

But it was a machine developed using trial and error in Canada that struck the decisive blow for humans. Round one of the competition was watched by 150,000 online spectators. Round two will be launched in December.

Dr Peter McOwan, AI researcher at the department of computer science, Queen Mary University of London, said in a statement: "Human creativity will be tough to beat and this will be a fascinating global experiment. Machines designing machines has been the theme of many popular science fiction movies, but that has become a reality."

Videos of the races can be seen here.