Created by Riccardo Lardi, The Reality Gap is a research project that investigates how robot movements evoke empathy towards humans and speculates where will the next generation of robotic systems come from and where will they go. Inspired by the 90’s research in artificial behaviour, especially the work of Karl Sims – “Evolved Virtual Creature”, Riccardo has developed a series of robotic agents, each "living" in it's very own, specific habitat, try to evoke an empathic, human reflex on the viewer while raising questions on how to assess "aliveness".
The project uses the process of evolutionary computation to develop behaviour by improving the system with the use of algorithms. While these may be simple to start with, Riccardo focus is not to develop complex and highly sophisticated algorithms, rather to analyse and question the differences and aesthetics between simulated behaviour and the physical one in controlled environments – focusing on single aspects of these behaviours. The notion of “struggle” that invokes empathy, i.e. seeing something attempt to move rather than through perfected, as imagined, behaviour that you would find in simulation – The Reality Gap.