Biorobotics Laboratory BioRob

A Bio-Inspired Robot Controller

Fabrizio Patuzzo
Master Project 2006
Ludovic Righetti, PhD
Auke Ijspeert

Project Title



Developing controllers for biped robots is one of the great challenges of XXI century robotics. Beside being a lot of fun, this research is expected to find applications ranging from service robotics and entertainment robotics to the exploration of terrains inaccessible to humans (atomic nuclear plants, distant planets, etc.). Compared to wheeled robots, biped ones do not require a continuous support path and, hence, can move on a wider range of terrains. Beside finding applications in robotics, research on the principles of biped locomotion is important to other fields, including prosthetics (to develop prostheses for handicapped people), sports science (to improve athlete's performance), neurology (to understand the neural mechanisms behind muscle activation), and even psychology (to understand people's behavior).


The objective of this project is to investigate how reflexes and sensory feedback can be incorporated into a biped controller to improve stability. To evaluate the models, we will implement them on a bio-inspired controller and see if they improve the robot's stability. Ultimately, our enhanced controller should allow the robot to make turns, speed up, slow down, and adapt its gait to various terrain conditions. The project is carried out in simulation, using Webots as a simulation environment. It is written in C++, and uses the Open Dynamics Engine (ODE) to implement the foot sensors. The original controller we are supposed to enhance was written by Ludovic Righetti at the Biologically Inspired Robotics Group (BIRG), Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL).


Here is the report (its current version), and a few movies of the robot (the old walk, the new walk with increased speed, the robot turning right, the robot walking backwards):