Locomotion in Biorobotic & Somatic Systems is an independent Max Planck Research Group at the interdisciplinary Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (formerly Metals and Materials Science). Leveraging expertise in diverse fields as biology and robotics, we explore the behavioural and morphological adaptations of natural systems, to achieve robust multimodal locomotion.
Richard Feynman famously said: “What I cannot create, I do not understand”. That is, if we cannot recreate how animals move, we have not understood precisely how it works. Curiosity driven fundamental research is therefore required to decipher how animals are able to gracefully navigate irregular terrain with such agility and robustness.
The past decade has presented a dramatic expansion in the development of mobile robots and the application of robotic systems to practical tasks. Despite the proliferation of computation and sensing at the small scale, robots still remain largely unable to access all but the most structured environments, and unable to reach the performances of natural systems. In turn, many of the biological mechanisms which allow animals to penetrate the natural world still remain poorly understood at the fundamental, biomechanical level. We believe that both challenges can be addressed with robophysical models; synthetic systems which serve as ’model animals’ for biology research, while also allowing mobile robots to approach biological capabilities. We investigate some of the most challenging locomotion behaviours observed in the natural world with a combination of biomimetic robots and studies of animal motion.