Foundations Of Cognitive Science

Behavior-based Robotics

Behavior-based robotics is an approach to robotics that was pioneered by Rodney Brooks (e.g., Brooks, 1999). This approach denies the sense-think-act approach to robot processing that traditionally defines the field. Instead, Brooks constructed robots which reacted directly to sensed properties in the environment, abandoning the usual ideas of exploiting centralized control and internal representations of the world. “In particular I have advocated situatedness, embodiment, and highly reactive architectures with no reasoning systems, no manipulable representations, no symbols, and totally decentralized computation” (Brooks, 1999, p. 170).

Behavior-based robotics is important because it illustrates many of the guiding principles of embodied cognitive science. It replaces the view of "mind as planner" with "mind as controller": "The New Robotics revolution rejects a fundamental part of the classical image of mind. It rejects the image of a central planner that is privy to all the information available anywhere in the system and dedicated to the discovery of possible behavioral sequences that will satisfy particular goals. The trouble with the central planner is that it is profoundly impractical" (Clark, 1997, p. 21).


  1. Brooks, R. A. (1999). Cambrian Intelligence: The Early History Of The New AI. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  2. Clark, A. (1997). Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

(Added November 2009)