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Rational imitation for robots: the cost difference model

Winfield, Alan; Vanderelst, Dieter


Dieter Vanderelst


© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017. Infants imitate behaviour flexibly. Depending on the circumstances, they copy both actions and their effects or only reproduce the demonstrator’s intended goals. In view of this selective imitation, infants have been called rational imitators. The ability to selectively and adaptively imitate behaviour would be a beneficial capacity for robots. Indeed, selecting what to imitate is an outstanding unsolved problem in the field of robotic imitation. In this paper, we first present a formalized model of rational imitation suited for robotic applications. Next, we test and demonstrate it using two humanoid robots.


Winfield, A., Vanderelst, D., & Winfield, A. F. (2017). Rational imitation for robots: the cost difference model. Adaptive Behavior, 25(2), 60-71.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 11, 2017
Online Publication Date Apr 24, 2017
Publication Date Jan 1, 2017
Journal Adaptive Behavior
Print ISSN 1059-7123
Electronic ISSN 1741-2633
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 2
Pages 60-71
Keywords imitation, robots, cognition, model, rational
Public URL
Publisher URL


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