Reactive balance control for legged robots under visco-elastic contacts

Thomas Flayols, Andrea Del Prete, Majid Khadiv, Nicolas Mansard, Ludovic Righetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contacts between robots and environment are often assumed to be rigid for control purposes. This assumption can lead to poor performance when contacts are soft and/or underdamped. However, the problem of balancing on soft contacts has not received much attention in the literature. This paper presents two novel approaches to control a legged robot balancing on visco-elastic contacts, and compares them to other two state-of-the-art methods. Our simulation results show that performance heavily depends on the contact stiffness and the noises/uncertainties introduced in the simulation. Briefly, the two novel controllers performed best for soft/medium contacts, whereas “inverse-dynamics control under rigid-contact assumptions” was the best one for stiff contacts. Admittance control was instead the most robust, but suffered in terms of performance. These results shed light on this challenging problem, while pointing out interesting directions for future investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number353
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Balance control
  • Elastic contacts
  • Force control
  • Humanoid robots
  • Optimization-based control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Instrumentation
  • General Engineering
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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