Contact-dependent balance stability of biped robots

Carlotta Mummolo, William Z. Peng, Carlos Gonzalez, Joo H. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A theoretical-algorithmic framework for the construction of balance stability boundaries of biped robots with multiple contacts with the environment is proposed and implemented on a robotic platform. Comprehensive and univocal definitions of the states of balance of a generic legged system are introduced with respect to the system's contact configuration. Theoretical models of joint-space and center of mass (COM)-space dynamics under multiple contacts, distribution of contact wrenches, and robotic system parameters are established for their integration into a nonlinear programing (NLP) problem. In the proposed approach, the balance stability capabilities of a biped robot are quantified by a partition of the state space of COM position and velocity. The boundary of such a partition provides a threshold between balanced and falling states of the biped robot with respect to a specified contact configuration. For a COM state to be outside of the stability boundary represents the sufficient condition for falling, from which a change in the system's contact is inevitable. Through the calculated stability boundaries, the effects of different contact configurations (single support (SS) and double support (DS) with different step lengths) on the robot's balance stability capabilities can be quantitatively evaluated. In addition, the balance characteristics of the experimental walking trajectories of the robot at various speeds are analyzed in relation to their respective stability boundaries. The proposed framework provides a contact-dependent balance stability criterion for a given system, which can be used to improve the design and control of walking robots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021009
JournalJournal of Mechanisms and Robotics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Balance stability boundary
  • Balanced state
  • Biped robot
  • COM state space
  • Constrained dynamics
  • Contact-dependent
  • Falling state
  • Multicontact
  • Nonlinear programming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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