Motion planning for legged robots on varied terrain

Kris Hauser, Timothy Bretl, Jean Claude Latombe, Kensuke Harada, Brian Wilcox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we study the quasi-static motion of large legged robots that have many degrees of freedom. While gaited walking may suffice on easy ground, rough and steep terrain requires unique sequences of footsteps and postural adjustments specifically adapted to the terrain's local geometric and physical properties. In this paper we present a planner that computes these motions by combining graph searching to generate a sequence of candidate footfalls with probabilistic sample-based planning to generate continuous motions that reach these footfalls. To improve motion quality, the probabilistic planner derives its sampling strategy from a small set of motion primitives that have been generated offline. The viability of this approach is demonstrated in simulation for the six-legged Lunar vehicle ATHLETE and the humanoid HRP-2 on several example terrains, including one that requires both hand and foot contacts and another that requires rappelling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1325-1349
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Humanoids
  • Legged robots
  • Motion planning
  • Motion primitives
  • Probabilistic sample-based planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Modeling and Simulation


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