The Morphids Project
The Morphids Project is an ongoing study in evolution of form and function.
Biologists have identified many open questions that are very difficult if not impossible to answer using standard biological field work. Many of these questions deal with body forms (morphologies), processes through which body forms are created (development), and how they are used by the organisms (controlling networks). Computer simulations of biological models allow researchers to gain a better understanding of studied models in order to answer questions about the biology involved.
The Morphids Project is a step towards providing biologists and other researchers with simulation tools and models to study how body forms and their functions evolved in simulations. These findings can then be used to formulate further questions about natural evolution of morphologies and more specific models that allow for further simulation. Such research can one day help to answer some of biology's most difficult open questions.
Morphids are physically simulated entities that encapsulate the ideas of a morphology, controller network, and development. They exist in a simulated 3D physical world where they evolve, learn, and interact with each other and the environment. The Morphid Academy system is a virtual laboratory that sustains virtual environments populated with Morphids and allows for the setup of various scientific experiments involving Morphids and their environments. Furthermore, Morphocosm is a proposed large scale ecology of Morphids that allows research in large scale ecological simulations.
The Morphid Academy software was created especially for the Morphids Project. It is cross-platform and open source using only open source components. More information about the software can be found on the software page.
The research for this project is being conducted by Marcin L. Pilat . The project initiated at the Evolutionary and Swarm Design group at University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Currently, Morphid Academy is being improved and applied to study interesting natural phenomena at the Artificial Life Laboratory of Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan.