Carlotta Mummolo, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Balance and locomotion of legged systems through contact interactions
Imagine the following actions: walking, stair climbing, holding the armrests of a chair while standing up, and leaning on the wall while reaching for an object on the floor. These are all examples of everyday life activities that require the coordination between human body motion and the available contact interactions with the environment. For some tasks, this coordination has the objective to preserve balance, or to restore it once it has been compromised. In other common tasks, the objective of this coordination could be exploiting contacts to achieve energy efficiency, as, for example, in natural human walking. While humans can instinctively plan and control their motion and contact interactions in time and space and use them as intentional support for agile and efficient movements, a mathematical framework for the generation and control of such coordinated actions in legged systems remains a challenge. In this talk, I will present two recent developments in the study of balance and locomotion through contacts: first, I will describe the formulation and application of a balance stability criterion for legged systems with multiple contact interactions; next, I will illustrate a method for the generation of optimal motion and control of general mechanisms during environment-aware tasks, while simultaneously predicting the optimal contacts. Integrating these two mathematical models could lead to a more unified approach to analyze, simulate, and control the coordinated motion of legged systems with contact-rich interactions, such as biped robots, the human body, and robotic exoskeletons.