Trajectory and foothold optimization using low-dimensional models for rough terrain locomotion

Carlos Mastalli, Michele Focchi, Ioannis Havoutis, Andreea Radulescu, Sylvain Calinon, Jonas Buchli, Darwin G. Caldwell, Claudio Semini

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We present a trajectory optimization framework for legged locomotion on rough terrain. We jointly optimize the center of mass motion and the foothold locations, while considering terrain conditions. We use a terrain costmap to quantify the desirability of a foothold location. We increase the gait’s adaptability to the terrain by optimizing the step phase duration and modulating the trunk attitude, resulting in motions with guaranteed stability. We show that the combination of parametric models, stochastic-based exploration and receding horizon planning allows us to handle the many local minima associated with different terrain conditions and walking patterns. This combination delivers robust motion plans without the need for warm-starting. Moreover, we use soft-constraints to allow for increased flexibility when searching in the cost landscape of our problem. We showcase the performance of our trajectory optimization framework on multiple terrain conditions and validate our method in realistic simulation scenarios and experimental trials on a hydraulic, torque controlled quadruped robot.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)
Place of PublicationSingapore, Singapore
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5090-4633-1
ISBN (Print)978-1-5090-4634-8
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2017
Event2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: 29 May 20173 Jun 2017


Conference2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
Abbreviated titleICRA 2017
Internet address


  • aerospace robotics
  • helicopters
  • legged locomotion
  • path planning
  • stability
  • torque control
  • trajectory optimisation (aerospace)
  • foothold optimization
  • low-dimensional models
  • rough terrain locomotion
  • trajectory optimization
  • center of mass motion
  • foothold location
  • gait adaptability
  • trunk attitude
  • guaranteed stability
  • parametric models
  • stochastic-based exploration
  • receding horizon planning
  • local minima
  • terrain conditions
  • walking patterns
  • robust motion plans
  • hydraulic torque controlled quadruped robot
  • Trajectory optimization
  • Legged locomotion
  • Planning
  • Acceleration


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