Dynamics and stability of legged locomotion in the horizontal plane: a test case using insects

Biol Cybern. 2002 May;86(5):343-53. doi: 10.1007/s00422-001-0300-3.


Motivated by experimental studies of insects, we propose a model for legged locomotion in the horizontal plane. A three-degree-of freedom, energetically conservative, rigid-body model with a pair of compliant virtual legs in intermittent contact with the ground allows us to study how dynamics depends on parameters such as mass, moment of inertia, leg stiffness, and length. We find periodic gaits, and show that mechanics alone can confer asymptotic stability of relative heading and body angular velocity. We discuss the relevance of our idealized models to experiments and simulations on insect running, showing that their gait and force characteristics match observations reasonably well. We perform parameter studies and suggest that our model is relevant to the understanding of locomotion dynamics across species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cockroaches / physiology*
  • Extremities / physiology
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Running / physiology