The Leg Lab uses physics-based computer simulation to study robot control systems, animal behavior, and to create automated computer characters.
We have also been investigating the use of robotic simulation and control as a means of generating motion for animated creatures to be used in entertainment and education. Using dynamic simulation and control systems to animate imaginary creatures could free the traditional animator from specifying the details of joint and limb motion while producing both physically realistic and natural-looking results.
On The Run, a cartoon animated with automated characters that use physics-based simulation and task-level control.
Cockroach Simulation. A simulated cockroach used to examine the dynamics of locomotion at small scale: do they move dynamically?
Running Without Control. All of our hopping robots have control systems which, especially compared to most mobile robots, are fairly simple. These simulations take it one step further: there is no "control system" in the sense of something which senses the state and reacts accordingly, yet they still run.
Retuning Control Systems. Elephants, giraffes, horses and dogs have similar topology but widely differing sizes and proporations. If we had a control system that worked correctly for one of them, could we easily adapt it to work on the others. This project explored using a computer program to automatically tune the control parameters for such variations.
High Bar Simulation. The flip executed while dismounting from a high bar is physically unstable, yet humans can perform this maneuver consistently. We have a simulation which can, too.
Hexapod Simulation. This is a simulation of a six-legged walking creature with eighteen actuated degrees of freedom. Using Virtual Model Control, a simple control scheme was devised in order to have the hexapod walk in three dimensions. The hexapod is also able to walk while balancing a two degree of freedom pendulum on its back.