Controlling legs for locomotion-insights from robotics and neurobiology

Bioinspir Biomim. 2015 Jun 29;10(4):041001. doi: 10.1088/1748-3190/10/4/041001.


Walking is the most common terrestrial form of locomotion in animals. Its great versatility and flexibility has led to many attempts at building walking machines with similar capabilities. The control of walking is an active research area both in neurobiology and robotics, with a large and growing body of work. This paper gives an overview of the current knowledge on the control of legged locomotion in animals and machines and attempts to give walking control researchers from biology and robotics an overview of the current knowledge in both fields. We try to summarize the knowledge on the neurobiological basis of walking control in animals, emphasizing common principles seen in different species. In a section on walking robots, we review common approaches to walking controller design with a slight emphasis on biped walking control. We show where parallels between robotic and neurobiological walking controllers exist and how robotics and biology may benefit from each other. Finally, we discuss where research in the two fields diverges and suggest ways to bridge these gaps.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomimetics / instrumentation*
  • Biomimetics / methods
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Feedback
  • Feedback, Physiological / physiology
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Neurobiology / methods
  • Robotics / instrumentation*
  • Robotics / methods