0031 6 1134 8920 jacqueline@heinerman.nl



Thank you for visiting my website. This website will give you more information about my current research activities and publications. I’m a PhD student on the topic of Evolutionary Robotics within the Computational Intelligence group of the department of Artificial Intelligence at the VU University Amsterdam.

Gecco conference in Berlin

July, 2017

Happy to had a poster accepted at Gecco. Interesting workshops, tutorials, and talks. We all want to be there again next year (in Japan!) so back to work :).

Invited talk at Keele University 

June, 2017

The “First Interdisciplinary Workshop on Social Learning and Cultural Evolution” at Keele University was a success. The goal was to bring researchers from the traditional studies of Social Learning, Cultural Evolution and Social Cognition together with researchers from the fields of Artificial Life, Evolutionary Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. For the program click here. I presented my recent findings where I showed that the benefits of social learning in an evolutionary robotic system highly depend on the parameter settings of the algorithm.


May, 2017

The yearly hackademia with the DREAM team was in Corsica. This resulted in the best office and after work drinks I ever had.


Techionista Future cafe 

October, 2016

Many thanks for the invitation at Techionista Future cafe. Techionista is dedicated to empowering women through technology in the Netherlands. This is needed, as diversity in the tech world is low. In the Netherlands, for example, 90% of programmers are men. Techionista is a network that tries to inspire, educate and connect to increase the number of woman in the tech world. Click here to like their facebook page and to be at the next edition of the future cafe. 

PPSN Conference 

September 27, 2016

Last week the PPSN conference was held in Edinburgh with a view on Arthur’s Seat. Our tutorial on “Evolutionary robotics – a practical guide to experiment with real hardware” was part of the schedule. Check out the slides!

Writing a scientific article: great course!

July, 2016

Just finished the intensive summer writing course of VU Taalcentrum to improve my paper writing skills. I learned a lot and recommend the course to all starting PhD students.

First robot BABY is a fact 

May 31, 2016

On May 26, 2016 our team presented the first robot baby! It received much attention in the Dutch media (for all links check this website). A short documentary can be seen here.

New colleague & roommate!

April 20, 2016

Alessandro Zonta started his PhD last week within our group on the topic of Situational Analytics.

The aim of his PhD project is to develop methods and technologies to filter, combine and interpret the vast amounts of information coming from various sources, such as (autonomous) sensors, in order to continuously provide up to date situational awareness tailored to the context of the person/role/organization at hand. 

He already proved to be a good researcher during his master thesis which resulted in a joint publication with the Thymio robots.

I’m happy you are back again!

Robot heads arrived 

March 9, 2016

The robot heads arrived that are specially made for our 3D printed robots. The heads integrate all needed electronics for connecting servos, power supply, independent recharging, and more nerdy stuff. Milan, another PhD at our department, and Matteo, a master student doing his thesis on the topic, made it work today on the robot. Interested? Stop by at the robot lab anytime (P437 W&N  building  VU).

DREAM review meeting in Paris

March 8, 2016

Just back from the DREAM review meeting. At UPMC, we presented our results of the first year with a beautiful 360 view of Paris! We also showed demonstrations with the Thymio, Crustcrawler and Baxter robot.

Paper accepted @ Evostar conference! 

January 22, 2016

Just submitted the camera-ready copy of our paper on “On-line Evolution of Foraging Behaviour in a Population of Real Robots“.

Abstract: This paper describes a study in evolutionary robotics conducted completely in hardware without using simulations. The experiments employ on-line evolution, where robot controllers evolve on-the-fly in the robots’ environment as the robots perform their tasks. The main issue we consider is the feasibility of tackling a non-trivial task in a realistic timeframe. In particular, we investigate whether a population of six robots can evolve foraging behaviour in one hour. The experiments demonstrate that this is possible and they also shed light on some of the important features of our evolutionary system. Further to the specific results we also advocate the system itself. It provides an example of a replicable and affordable experimental set-up for other researchers to engage in research into on-line evolution in a population of real robots.

You can already read the full paper or wait for the poster presentation session at the Evostar conference at the end of March in Porto, Portugal.

Responsible Robotics Foundation

January 18, 2016

After meeting Aimee van Wynsberghe last week, she invited me to join her Responsible Robotics Foundation. The mission of the foundation is the following:

To promote the responsible design, development, implementation, and policy of robots embedded in our society. Our goal is to influence the future development and application of robotics such that it embeds the standards, methods, principles, capabilities, and policy points, as they relate to the responsible design and deployment of robotic systems. We see both the definition of responsible robotics and the means for achieving it as on-going tasks that will evolve alongside the technology of robotics. Of great significance is that the FRR aims to be proactive and assistive to the robotics industry in a way that allows for the ethical, legal, and societal issues to be incorporated into design, development, and policy.

Become a member of the foundation via the website and join a working group of your interest.

Second place best student paper award!

January 12, 2016

We are proud to tell that our paper “Evolution, Individual Learning, and Social Learning in a Swarm of Real Robots”, presented in Capetown South Africa, got a Best Student Paper Award (second place)! read paper

Dream meeting in London

November 18, 2015

In the beginning of November, we had a very inspiring meeting with the members of the DREAM project (http://robotsthatdream.eu/). We presented our own work on on-line evolution of foraging behaviour in a population of Thymio II robots and we heard new ideas from the other Universities, that we start to implement now too.

But luckily, there was also time to see London and eat at the new restaurant of Ottolenghi: NOPI!

Discovery Festival @ NEMO

October 1, 2015

At the Discovery festival at NEMO last Friday, we presented our evolving robots for the first time to the public.

Thank you all for the enthusiastic reactions! For the ones who missed it: the robots will still be available this whole week at the EXPO room @ NEMO.

Photo’s and video’s of the event can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/discoveryfestival?fref=ts.

Blog about our research written by the Discovery Festival

September 18, 2015

A blog about our research has been written and posted on the discovery festival website:
See the “Upcoming Events” page for more information about this festival on the 25th of September.

Massimiliano talking to the Thymio robots

Paper accepted on the 2015 IEEE Symposium Series on Computational Intelligence!

September 15, 2015

We are really happy to tell that we got a paper accepted on the 2015 IEEE Symposium Series on Computational Intelligence! Capetown: here we come!

The paper is called: “Evolution, Individual Learning, and Social Learning in a Swarm of Real Robots”. 

Abstract: We investigate a novel adaptive system based on evolution, individual learning, and social learning in a swarm of physical Thymio II robots. The system is based on distinguishing inheritable and learnable features in the robots and defining appropriate operators for both categories. In this study we choose to make the sensory layout of the robots inheritable, thus evolvable, and the robot controllers learnable. We run tests with a basic system that employs only evolution and individual learning and compare this with an extended system where robots can disseminate their learned controllers. Results show that social learning increases the learning speed and leads to better controllers.

Thanks Massimiliano for all your help! See you in Capetown.



My name Jacqueline Heinerman, 2nd year PhD student in the field of Evolutionary Robotics at the VU University in Amsterdam. Evolutionary Robotics aims to evolve the controllers, the morphologies, or both, for real and/or simulated autonomous robots with use of Evolutionary Algorithms. 


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