Learning Legged Locomotion

  • Fumiya Iida
  • Simon Bovet

Legged locomotion of biological systems can be viewed as a self-organizing process of highly complex system℄environment interactions. Walking behavior is, for example, generated from the interactions between many mechanical components (e.g., physical interactions between feet and ground, skeletons and muscle-tendon systems), and distributed informational processes (e.g., sensory information processing, sensory-motor control in central nervous system, and reflexes) [21]. An interesting aspect of legged locomotion study lies in the fact that there are multiple levels of self-organization processes (at the levels of mechanical dynamics, sensory-motor control, and learning).

Previously, the self-organization of mechanical dynamics was nicely demonstrated by the so-called Passive Dynamic Walkers (PDWs; [18]). The PDW is a purely mechanical structure consisting of body, thigh, and shank limbs that are connected by passive joints. When placed on a shallow slope, it exhibits natural bipedal walking dynamics by converting potential to kinetic energy without any actuation. An important contribution of these case studies is that, if designed properly, mechanical dynamics can generate a relatively complex locomotion dynamics, on the one hand, and the mechanical dynamics induces self-stability against small disturbances without any explicit control of motors, on the other. The basic principle of the mechanical self-stability appears to be fairly general that there are several different physics models that exhibit similar characteristics in different kinds of behaviors (e.g., hopping, running, and swimming; [2, 4, 9, 16, 19]), and a number of robotic platforms have been developed based on them [1, 8, 13, 22].


Mechanical Dynamic Robotic Platform Rough Terrain Quadruped Robot Legged Robot 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fumiya Iida
    • 1
  • Simon Bovet
    • 2
  1. 1.Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence LaboratoryMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Department of InformaticsUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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