For the first time ever, a computer programmed to follow the rules of evolution has designed and manufactured simple robots with minimal help from people.

The 8-inch automatons did not take over the world or even vacuum the lab. Instead, they crawled across a tabletop, exactly as they were digitally bred to do, said Jordan Pollack, a Brandeis University computer scientist.

"It's not what our robots do that is so surprising," he said. "They're

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