Optimizing Locomotion Controllers Using Biologically-Based Actuators and Objectives

ACM Trans Graph. 2012 Jul;31(4):25. doi: 10.1145/2185520.2185521.


We present a technique for automatically synthesizing walking and running controllers for physically-simulated 3D humanoid characters. The sagittal hip, knee, and ankle degrees-of-freedom are actuated using a set of eight Hill-type musculotendon models in each leg, with biologically-motivated control laws. The parameters of these control laws are set by an optimization procedure that satisfies a number of locomotion task terms while minimizing a biological model of metabolic energy expenditure. We show that the use of biologically-based actuators and objectives measurably increases the realism of gaits generated by locomotion controllers that operate without the use of motion capture data, and that metabolic energy expenditure provides a simple and unifying measurement of effort that can be used for both walking and running control optimization.

Keywords: biomechanics; musculoskeletal simulation; physics-based character animation.