W11: Fielding Legged Robotics off the Beaten Path (0627)

Mr. Jason Pusey, Prof. Yan Gu, Prof. Ye Zhao

Date & Time



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The primary purpose of this workshop is to discuss the challenges and requirements in control, dynamics, optimization, and system design for fielding legged robotics in real-world scenarios. These types of robotic platforms have an enormous potential for swaths of applications, particularly where mobility challenges limit the application of more traditional ground robots. We will use this workshop to present discussion pieces and foster conversation on the true challenges limiting the fielding of legged robots. The workshop will feature invited pioneers in the legged robotics community to discuss what they see as technical challenges limiting legged technology. Further, several speakers will feature live demonstrations of their hardware platforms, giving attendees in-person physical examples of these concepts in action. We will focus on the following topics with an eye on their application to legged robots:

  1. Controller: What kind of control is best suited for fielded applications? Periodic gaits are robust and efficient, but are they flexible enough to meet the challenging settings of applied legged robots? Foothold driven dynamic planning and balance requires significant computation, while also being generally less efficient than other more dynamic approaches.
  2. Planning: What kind of planning is required for locomotion? Should the balance state entirely drive the contact location, or should it only modify what is provided by a high level planner?
  3. Actuation: Hydraulic or electric? High gear reduction or direct drive? Low or high voltage? These are all important questions when designing legged robots, as both the power output and power consumption drive the total performance of the robot.
  4. Embodied Intelligence: What level of autonomy is actually needed for these robots to be useful enough for real world application? Is 1:1 sufficient, or must the operator be able to direct a team? What behaviors and elements are critical to automate, and what can be left to a remote operator?
  5. Simulation: What role can simulation play when designing both hardware and controllers for legged robots? What are the key elements required in designing a simulator to make it accurately capture the real world? How can we improve simulation to incorporate more machine learning techniques to increase the robustness and reactivity of the final product?
  6. Scaling: As robots are scaled up in size, they often face significant challenges with power supplies and actuation. Are there technologies that aren’t being used that could break this paradigm? Are there different critical components as the scale of the platform goes from small to large?

Additional specific questions we will pose then include: Where is the state of the art now in off road robotic locomotion? Where should the next generation legged robotic platforms evolve to? What technologies need to be advanced to support this evolution? What is constraining technology and how can we push the technology to the next level?

Topics of interest

  • Feedback model based control design for dynamic locomotion
  • Whole-body Control of Agile Locomotion
  • Controller design of legged locomotion on dynamic platforms
  • Computationally efficient trajectory optimization
  • System design of advanced legged machines
  • State estimation and sensor fusion
  • Motion and path planning with intermittent contact
  • Contact-rich decision-making and task planning
  • Machine learning for estimation and control

Intended audience

The intended audience is academic, industry, and government R&D personnel who are interested in learning about the development of legged robot hardware, software, and autonomy. The research, technology, and hardware demos will be inspirational and provide motivation to students, scientists, engineers, component suppliers, and entrepreneurs to enter or expand into this very challenging field.

For further details and updated information please visit our workshop homepage.


Mr. Jason Pusey

U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), Army Research Laboratory (ARL)

Prof. Yan Gu

University of Massachusetts, Lowell MA

Prof. Ye Zhao

G. W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

Date & Time