Whole-Body Control

With growing research interest in robotics, robots have become increasingly proficient in performing many different, non-trivial tasks, such as running, jumping, climbing stairs, and manipulating objects. In most cases, however, each of these tasks is addressed individually, and this imposes a fundamental limitation on the use of robots in the real world. While humans may occasionally be outperformed by robots in a single task, they are vastly more capable of adapting and combining behaviors to solve multiple different tasks. This flexibility allows humans to generalize their knowledge, and to successfully perform tasks that they have never explicitly faced before. This also opens the door for simultaneous execution of multiple tasks. To address these constraints, Whole-Body Control (WBC) has been proposed as a promising research direction. WBC aims to i) define a small set of simple, low-dimensional rules (e.g., equilibrium, self collision avoidance, etc.) ii) that are sufficient to guarantee the correct execution of any single task, whenever feasible (e.g., reaching for an object with one end-effector), and of simultaneous multiple tasks (e.g., reaching for an object with one end-effector, while reaching for a second object with another end-effector), iii) exploiting the full capabilities of the entire body of redundant, floating-based robots in compliant multi-contact interaction with the environment. Therefore, a control system that is specifically designed to guarantee the execution of a single task, even if it uses all the joints of a robot, cannot be considered WBC. A WBC system should necessarily be general enough to allow the execution of several (ideally any) tasks.

pic from Orin et al., Centroidal Dynamics of a Humanoid Robot, AURO 2013

The WBC TC will cover, but not be limited to, the following topics:

  • Whole-body position/force control
  • Model-based dynamics control
  • Centroidal momentum
  • Multi-contact forces distribution
  • Torque-control
  • Compliant body behavior
  • Agile locomotion and dexterous manipulation
  • Real Time Implementation of Whole-Body Control

WBC-TC logo



Founding date:

19 September 2014