UPM Autonomous Systems Laboratory

The ICEA Project

Integrating Cognition, Emotion and Autonomy

2006-2009 / FP6-IST 027819

The ICEA project addressed the development of a cognitive system architecture integrating cognition and emotion to provide autonomy (at a first stage only bioregulation and self-mainteinance), based on the architecture and physiology of the mammalian brain (a rat).

A key hypothesis guiding the project was that emotional and autonomic mechanisms play a critical role in structuring the high-level thought processes of living cognitive systems like ourselves.

ImageThe ICEA robots shall perceive and act in the real world, learn from that interaction developing situated knowledge (representations of their environments in spatial, emotional and behavioral terms), and use this knowledge in anticipation, planning and decision-making. These autonomous machines shall be able to operate alongside humans, sharing with us the capacity to respond emotionally to their surroundings, and a similar grounding in the need to organize behavior in accordance with energy and self-preservation requirements. The brain and behavior of the rat was an important starting point because of the large scientific literature available for this species. Rat cognition was studied and emulated both through an ambitious program of empirical studies in real animals and through computational modeling on several, real and simulated, robot platforms.

The project developed two central, integrated platforms, rat-like in appearance, perceptual, and behavioral capacities:

  • First, a robot, ICEAbot, equipped with multimodal sensory systems served as a physical, real-world testbed and demonstrator of the cognitive capacities derived from models of rat biology.
  • Second, a 3D robot simulator, ICEAsim, based on the physical ICEAbot, but also offering richer opportunities for experimentation, was used to demonstrate the potential of the ICEA architecture to go beyond the rat model and support human cognitive capacities, such as feelings, imagination, and self-referential thought.

This second platform was made freely available to the research community as a standard research tool.

Our team at ASLab investigated three basics aspects of ICEA:

The possibility of elaborating an unified, general perspective about the integration of autonomic, emotional and cognitive aspects, i.e. the ultimate theory of mind integration.

The extent to which the reverse-engineered mental structures of the mammal brain can be of any use to embedded systems construction (e.g. in cars, electrical networks or mobile phones).

The role that cognitive self-reflection and emotional evaluation of real-time performance can give rise to an architecture for consciousness. We call this SOUL. For more information about SOUL visit the SOUL Project Website.