Towards Rich Motion Skills with the Lightweight Quadruped Robot Serval - A Design, Control and Experimental Study

  • Peter EckertEmail author
  • Anja E. M. Schmerbauch
  • Tomislav Horvat
  • Katja Söhnel
  • Martin S. Fischer
  • Hartmut Witte
  • Auke J. Ijspeert
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10994)


Bio-inspired robotic designs introducing and benefiting from morphological aspects present in animals allowed the generation of fast, robust and energy efficient locomotion. We used engineering tools and interdisciplinary knowledge transferred from biology to build low-cost robots able to achieve a certain level of versatility. Serval, a compliant quadruped robot with actuated spine and high range of motion in all joints was developed to address the question of what mechatronic complexity is needed to achieve rich motion skills. In our experiments, the robot presented a high level of versatility (number of skills) at medium speed, with a minimal control effort and, in this article, no usage of its spine. Implementing a basic kinematics-duplication from dogs, we found strengths to emphasize, weaknesses to correct and made Serval ready for future attempts to achieve more agile locomotion. In particular, we investigated the following skills: trot, bound (crouched), sidestep, turn with a radius, ascend slopes including flat ground transition, perform single and double step-downs, fall, trot over bumpy terrain, lie/sit down, and stand up.



We thank the “Bewegungslabor (OpenLab) der westfälischen Wilhelms Universität Münster”, especially Dr. Marc de Lussanet and Prof. Dr. Heiko Wagner. We wish to thank the owners of the dogs for providing the experimental subjects. This collaborative work was financially supported by the NCCR Robotics and gkf Gesellschaft für kynologische Forschung. We thank the editors and reviewers for their constructive criticism.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Eckert
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anja E. M. Schmerbauch
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tomislav Horvat
    • 1
  • Katja Söhnel
    • 3
  • Martin S. Fischer
    • 3
  • Hartmut Witte
    • 2
  • Auke J. Ijspeert
    • 1
  1. 1.Biorobotics LaboratoryÉcole Polytechnique Fédérale de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Fachgebiet BiomechatronikTechnische Universität IlmenauIlmenauGermany
  3. 3.Institut für Zoologie und EvolutionsforschungFriedrich-Schiller-Universität JenaJenaGermany

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