Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Optimization in Robotics and Biomechanics

Workshop at IEEE BioRob 2012 - Modeling Locomotion of Humans and Humanoids

pictures: ARMAR - Tamim Asfour, iCub - Massimo Brega  all other pictures - ORB, University of Heidelberg


Time and Place:

June 24, 2012, 9 am to 5 pm
Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma. Via Alvaro del Portillo 21, 00128 Roma.
More information at

Workshop program (download here)


The model-based investigation of dynamic motions of anthropomorphic systems is an important research topic in humanoid robotics, biomechanics and computer animation. Basic locomotion forms such as walking and running is of particular interest due to the high demand on dynamic coordination, actuator efficiency and balance control, as well as steering decisions. Mathematical models and numerical simulation and optimization techniques - in combination with experimental data - can help to better understand and improve the basic underlying mechanisms of healthy and pathological locomotion, e.g. in sports or after an accident or an illness. Mathematical models can also serve to control locomotion of humans walking with a prosthetic device, an orthosis or exoskeleton, or even assist the design of these devices. In addition, models help to do the transfer from recorded human experiments to a humanoid platform in a way that produces feasible motions for the humanoid. There are two different levels at which human and humanoid locomotion can be studied :

  • The generation of motions and torques on the joint level which usually is driven by laws of energy consumption, stability, fatigue minimization or the placement of a foot on a given foothold;
  • the trajectories of the human or humanoid as a whole in space that are chosen to walk to a given target in free space, to avoid obstacles or interact with other humans or humanoids.

Both topics are represented in this workshop.

The establishment of good locomotion models is a highly interdisciplinary research task. The goal of this full-day workshop at IEEE BioRob 2012 is to gather researchers of all related fields to promote the interdisciplinary discussion.

List of Workshop topics:

  • Modeling locomotion of humanoid robots (walking, crawling)
  • Using multibody models to understand human walking and running motions
  • Transferring knowledge from biological locomotion experiments to robots by means of mathematical models
  • Modeling mechanical vs. cognition-driven locomotion
  • Modeling prostheses and orthoses and their effects on human walking and running
  • Modeling exoskeletons for improved walking
  • Locomotion models in computer graphics
  • Modeling interactions in locomotion (meeting, following, and avoiding other subjects)
  • Modeling gaits as optimization problems
  • Optimization of walking motions for different objective functions
  • Inverse optimal control as a modeling technique
  • Stability models of walking and running
  • Geometric concepts in locomotion models
  • Imitation of human motions on humanoids

Confirmed invited presentations :

  • Armel Crétual, Univ Rennes 2,  France: Realistic Modeling of 1 vs. 1 Interactions during Locomotion

  • Martin Giese, University of Tübingen, Germany : Stability in the formation of collective human locomotion patterns

  • Tobias Meilinger, MPI Tübingen, Germany: Modeling errors in human navigation

  • Katja Mombaur, University of Heidelberg, Germany: Modeling of fast running motions with prostheses

  • Francesco Nori, IIT, Genua, Italy: Modeling crawling locomotion for the iCub robot

  • Yann Perrot, CEA, Paris, France: Modeling and control of an exoskeleton for human assistance

  • Julien Pettré, INRIA Rennes, France: Realistic Modeling of Follower Locomotion Behavior

  • Philippe Souères, LAAS-CNRS, France:  A multisensory root as a key principle to simplify the observation and control of anthropomorphic systems       

  • Manish Sreenivasa, University of Tokyo, Japan: Researching Locomotion: Perspectives, synergies and pitfalls from methods in Neuroscience, Bio-mechanics and Robotics

  • Emo Todorov, University of Washington, Optimizing through contacts: A framework for automatic synthesis of complex behaviors

Talk abstracts (download here)

Motivation and Objectives of Workshop

The goal of the proposed workshop is to gather specialists of dynamic modeling of locomotion from different disciplines such as Robotics, Biomechanics, Neuroscience, Orthopedics and Mathematics to discuss modeling approaches for locomotion

Generating natural bipedal locomotion is a very challenging task for various reasons. First, the stability control of such dynamic motions  - even though unconsciously mastered by healthy humans – is far from being understood and is till not fully reproducible when natural locomotion is impaired on a human or when being imposed on a humanoid robot. Second the bipedal locomotion system is underactuated, since not all its degrees of freedom are directly actuated by a force or torque. An third, it is a highly redundant system which means that a given motion task, like a step from A to B or a gait at a given speed can be performed in a infinite number of ways.

Mathematical models can help to overcome many of the difficulties associated with bipedal locomotion. They can help to better understand the underlying mechanisms of human walking, and to transfer it to humanoids, or to humans walking with prostheses or orthoses. Simulation and optimization techniques based on these models help to predict reality or to select between the many redundant locomotion solutions.

The objective of this workshop is to discuss the state of the art of locomotion models in the different scientific fields listed above and to stimulate a discussion and an exchange of ideas between the different fields. The goal is also to promote the idea of locomotion models which are combining inputs from different disciplines, i.e. which are not just e.g. purely mechanical models of locomotion, but also include e.g. cognitive or motor control aspects.


The target audience of the workshop are scientists from robotics, biomechanics, neuroscience, orthopedics and mathematics  as well as representatives of the robotic or medical industry who all share a common interest in locomotion. The workshop addresses experienced researchers as well as PhD students working in the field of human and humanoid walking.

For participation in this workshop, please register at the conference web page

K. Mombaur,
Last Update: 28.04.2014 - 17:34

The photographs in the header of this webpage have been taken at the Musee de l'Automate in Souillac, France