Toward an Expressive Bipedal Robot: Variable Gait Synthesis and Validation in a Planar Model

Umer Huzaifa, Catherine Maguire, Amy LaViers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Humans are efficient, yet expressive in their motion. Human walking behaviors can be used to walk across a great variety of surfaces without falling and to communicate internal state to other humans through variable gait styles. This provides inspiration for creating similarly expressive bipedal robots. To this end, a framework is presented for stylistic gait generation in a compass-like under-actuated planar biped model. The gait design is done using model-based trajectory optimization with variable constraints. For a finite range of optimization parameters, a large set of 360 gaits can be generated for this model. In particular, step length and cost function are varied to produce distinct cyclic walking gaits. From these resulting gaits, 6 gaits are identified and labeled, using embodied movement analysis, with stylistic verbs that correlate with human activity, e.g., “lope” and “saunter”. These labels have been validated by conducting user studies in Amazon Mechanical Turk and thus demonstrate that visually distinguishable, meaningful gaits are generated using this framework. This lays groundwork for creating a bipedal humanoid with variable socially competent movement profiles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-141
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Social Robotics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Biped locomotion
  • Embodied movement analysis
  • Expressivity
  • Human-like natural motions
  • Optimization
  • Stylistic motion variation synthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)

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