A hexapedal jointed-leg model for insect locomotion in the horizontal plane

Biol Cybern. 2007 Dec;97(5-6):379-95. doi: 10.1007/s00422-007-0180-2. Epub 2007 Oct 10.


We develop a simple model for insect locomotion in the horizontal (ground) plane. As in earlier work by Seipel et al. (Biol Cybern 91(0):76-90, 2004) we employ six actuated legs that also contain passive springs, but the legs, with "hip" and 'knee' joints, better represent insect morphology. Actuation is provided via preferred angle inputs at each joint, corresponding to zero torques in the hip and knee springs. The inputs are determined from estimates of foot forces in the cockroach Blaberus discoidalis via an inverse problem. The head-thorax-body is modeled as a single rigid body, and leg masses, inertia and joint dissipation are ignored. The resulting three degree-of-freedom dynamical system, subject to feedforward joint inputs, exhibits stable periodic gaits that compare well with observations over the insect's typical speed range. The model's response to impulsive perturbations also matches that of freely-running cockroaches (Jindrich and Full, J Exp Biol 205:2803-2823, 2002), and stability is maintained in the face of random foot touchdowns representative of real insects. We believe that this model will allow incorporation of realistic muscle models driven by a central pattern generator in place of the joint actuators, and that it will ultimately permit the study of proprioceptive feedback pathways involving leg force and joint angle sensing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Gait / physiology
  • Hindlimb / physiology*
  • Insecta / physiology*
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics