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Events ■ ICRA 2013 WS on Hydraulic Robots

ICRA 2013 Workshop on Hydraulic Robots

Design and Control of High-Performance Hydraulic Robots:
Recent Advances and Perspectives

2013 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Karlsruhe, Germany.
This full-day workshop takes place on Friday, May 10, 2013. (FR-WS-14)
Location: Forum 1 (Stadthalle, ground floor)

Sarcos Humanoid 2013HyQ robot kneeling

Final Schedule (scroll down for the talk abstracts)

8:50 - 9:00 Introduction by Claudio Semini
9:00 - 9:30 Talk by Claudio Semini: Design and Experiments with the High-Performance Hydraulic Quadruped Robot HyQ (slides)
9:30-10:00 Talk by Jonas Buchli: High performance model based torque control on hydraulic and electric robots (slides)
10:00 - 10:30 coffee break
10:30 - 11:00 Talk by Ludovic Righetti: Torque control algorithms for balancing and locomotion (slides)
  11:00 - 11:30 Talk by Ioannis Poulakakis: Reduced-order models for bounding and their implications to the control of robotic quadrupeds
11:30 - 12:45 Interactive session with teasers in the first 15min
12:45 - 14:00 lunch break
14:00 - 14:30 Talk by Nick Payton: Hydroid CADHydroid robot legsFastRunner robot CAD Design and Control of the FastRunner Hydraulic Actuation System
14:30 - 15:00 Talk by Hui Chai: SCalf, a Hydraulic Quadruped Robot (slides
15:00 - 15:30 Talk by Pranav Bhounsule: Modeling and Control of two hydraulic robots: Sarcos' humanoid and Disney's animatronics figure
15:30 - 16:00 coffee break
16:00 - 16:30 Talk by SangHo Hyon: From legged robots to hydraulic servo press: the design, control, and education (slides
16:30 - 17:00 Talk by Arno Stienen: Design and Model-Based Control of a Hydro-Elastic Actuator
17:00 - 17:30 Talk by Samer Alfayad: HYDROïD Humanoid Robot - Actuation & Kinematics Structure
17:30 - 18:00 Discussion round and concluding remarks

Interactive workshop/tutorial session (11:30 - 12:45)

The following extended abstracts have been accepted for presentation during the interactive session:

List of Topics

  • Design of legged robots with hydraulic actuation
  • Design of hydraulic actuators and power systems for robotic systems
  • Design of rehabilitation devices with hydraulic actuation
  • Torque control of hydraulic actuators
  • Balancing of hydraulic legged robots
  • Highly dynamic motions of hydraulic robots
  • Rough terrain locomotion of hydraulic robots
  • Whole body control of hydraulic robots
  • Solutions towards energy efficient hydraulic actuation


Legged machines are expected to demonstrate superior mobility on rough terrain when compared to the more traditional wheeled and tracked vehicles. The agility, balancing and climbing skills of humans and animals are proof of this potential and usually the main motivation of the researchers in this field. Despite these efforts, however, the state of the art in the field of legged robots is still far from such performance. A major reason for this gap is the lack of robots with powerful actuation that is robust against the impacts associated to legged locomotion, can be torque-controlled and is compact, yet fast and strong. Hydraulic actuation systems meet these requirements and indeed most of the high-performance robots to date are driven by hydraulics.
This full-day workshop aims to bring together key researchers of academia and industry to discuss and assess the state of the art in the design and control of high-performance hydraulic robots and robotic devices. Furthermore, we intend to challenge the wide-spread fear and skepticism of roboticians that hydraulic actuation is dirty, constantly leaking and difficult to control. Discussion rounds about the challenges in the design and control of hydraulic robots will complete the workshop.

List of Speakers

  • SangHo Hyon Sang-ho Hyon, Ritsumeikan University, Japan, confirmed

    Talk: From legged robots to hydraulic servo press: the design, control, and education
    Abstract: This talk introduces our past and recent research efforts on hydraulic robots including fast legged robots, compliant humanoid robots, hydraulic excavator, and hydraulic servo press. The focus is on how we design the mechanisms utilizing the high power-to-weight ratio of hydraulic actuators, and how to consider the dynamics of the actuators to obtain good performance of the mechanisms. Some educational programs ongoing in our laboratory for undergraduate students are also introduced.

  • Ioannis Poulakakis Ioannis Poulakakis, University of Delaware, USA, confirmed

    Talk: Reduced-order models for bounding and their implications to the control of robotic quadrupeds
    Abstract: This talk will focus on modeling and control aspects of quadrupedal running with particular attention to the bounding gait. A family of reduced-order models, capable of capturing the primary characteristics of the task-level bounding behavior will be introduced, and simple control strategies will be proposed in the context of these models. The implications of the proposed strategies to the control of more complete representations of robotic quadrupeds such as the HyQ will be discussed.

  • NickPayton Nick Payton, Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), USA, confirmed

    Talk: Design and Control of the FastRunner Hydraulic Actuation System
    Abstract: The FastRunner robot is a bipedal robot designed to run up 30 kph. To reach such speeds while being energy efficient, we introduced a new kind of actuation system composed of a custom hydraulic actuator coupled to a parallel spring. The custom hydraulic actuator is capable of achieving forces up to 6400N at speed up to 1.5m/s. The parallel spring is tuned to a specific frequency to work with the actuator during steady state running. As such, the spring is storing some of the energy produced by the actuator resulting in a reduced energy consumption of the overall system. Design and control of the FastRunner hydraulic actuation system are presented in this paper.

  • ArnoStienen Arno Stienen, University of Twente, the Netherlands, confirmed

    Talk: Design and Model-Based Control of a Hydro-Elastic Actuator
    Abstract: Robots used for diagnostic measurements on for instance stroke survivors require actuators that are both stiff and compliant. Stiffness is required for identification purposes and compliance to allow the subject to move the robot freely. A hydraulic actuator can act as a position (stiff) or a torque (compliant) actuator. The drawback of a hydraulic actuator is that it behaves nonlinear. We will examine and compare two methods for controlling a nonlinear hydraulic actuator: using a physical series-elastic element and using and exact inverse model.

  • Hui Chai Chai Hui, Shandong University, China, confirmed

    Talk: SCalf, a Hydraulic Quadruped Robot
    Abstract: SCalf is an advanced hydraulic quadruped robot, developed by Robotics Center of Shandong University. With its onboard engine driven hydraulic power system, SCalf has already walked in some kinds of complicated outdoor environment, such as slope, sand, snow and ice. The payload can be up to 120 kilograms. In this presentation, we will introduce the specifications, design and control of SCalf, share some experiences and problems we have met but still not solved in the study of hydraulic quadruped robot. The mobility and ability of balance will also be shown by the experimental result.

  • Pranav Bhounsule Pranav Bhounsule, Disney Research, USA, confirmed

    Talk: Modeling and Control of two hydraulic robots: Sarcos' humanoid and Disney's animatronics figure
    Abstract: I will talk about our efforts to develop a physics based model for the lower body of the Sarcos humanoid and input-output based model for one of Disney's animatronics figure (a 39 degree of freedom humanoid with fixed base). I will highlight some of the challenges in controlling these hydraulic robots to do force control and position tracking.

  • ClaudioSemini Claudio Semini, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), Italy, confirmed

    Talk: Design and Experiments with the High-Performance Hydraulic Quadruped Robot HyQ
    Abstract: HyQ is a versatile, high-performance quadruped robot with torque-controlled joints that has been developed at the IIT. This 75kg robot has successfully shown dynamic motions such as trotting at 2m/s, jumping and rearing, as well as balancing skills and navigation over rough terrain. Hydraulic actuation, proper hardware/software design, robust locomotion controller and model-based torque control are the key to the high performance of this machine. This talk will present the design and the most recent experimental results of HyQ with a focus on its hydraulic actuation system. Challenges and open problems related to hydraulics are presented that will serve as a basis for the discussions later in the workshop.

  • Ludovic Righetti Ludovic Righetti, Max-Planck-Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI), Germany, confirmed

    Talk: Torque control algorithms for balancing and locomotion
    Abstract: We expect autonomous robots to perform complex tasks in constant interaction with an uncertain and changing environment (e.g. in a disaster relief scenario). Therefore, we need to design algorithms that can generate precise but compliant motions while optimizing the interactions with the environment. In this presentation, I will discuss some of our recent results based on force control for balancing and locomotion tasks. We designed model-based motion controllers that are able to exploit torque redundancy to optimally distribute forces among multiple contact points. Building on these ideas, we created robust balance and locomotion controllers. More particularly, I will present our recent experimental results on a hydraulic humanoid robot that demonstrate that our controllers are well-suited for such complex robots.

  • JonasBuchli Jonas Buchli, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ), Switzerland, confirmed

    Talk: High performance model based torque control on hydraulic and electric robots
    Abstract: Good torque control is a mandatory requirement for robots that need to interact with their environment. The availability and performance of the torque controller becomes especially critical when the environment is uncertain and/or the contacts are very dynamic (e.g. impacts). Typical use cases are locomotion in rough terrain or dexterous manipulation of everyday objects. In this talk I will summarize our experience with achieving high performance torque control and active impedance control with hydraulically and electrically driven robots. The key ingredients are choosing adequate hardware, data acquisition and model based actuator control. Drawing a comparison between the two actuator technologies allows us to identify and distinguish hardware specific and fundamental challenges.

  • Samer Alfayad Samer Alfayad, Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) and Universite de Versailles ST-Quntin-En-Yvelines (UVSQ), Germany/France, confirmed

    Talk: HYDROïD Humanoid Robot - Actuation & Kinematics Structure
    Abstract: HYDROïD (HYDraulic andROïD) is a full-size under development humanoid robot aims to contribute to improving our understanding of the phenomena of locomotin and manipulation of humans. This presentation will focus on two research areas. First, the active foot, which was studied then designed, will be presented. Then, we will focus in two innovative hybrid mechanisms, each consisting of a rotating actuator carrying a parallel structure with two active DOF. The first type has been dedicated to the modules of the hip, shoulder and torso. In the second type, actuation of parallel structure with cables was chosen for the ankle, the wrist and the neck modules. The second part of this presentation will be dedicated to the actuation of the HYDROïD robot for which a new highly integrated actuator has been proposed. The actuation principle will be detailed and the benefits of the proposed solution will be shown. Very interesting performances of the first realized prototype of this actuator have been obtained and will be presented.


Motivations and Objectives

The major advantage of legged machines is their potential to navigate on rough terrain with agility, allowing them to become useful helpers for search and rescue missions, inspection tasks, forestry applications and as payload carriers. To successfully create such machines, their actuation system, control, and perception, need to work perfectly together. Specifically, the actuation system has to provide robustness against repeated impact loads, high speed and force output, force/torque control, light-weight and compact design. Hydraulic actuation meets these requirements and most of the high-performance robots built to date are powered by hydraulic actuators. Until recently the availability of such robots was restricted to few US companies without academic output. Recently, however, academic research groups have constructed robots with similar performance. The availability of such platforms for academic research will increase scientific progress and open up a multitude of interesting research questions. Additionally, groups without experience with hydraulics will get access to hydraulic robots provided by the DARPA Robotics Challenge.
The main objective of this full-day workshop is to bring together experts in the field of hydraulic high-performance robots to gain a better understanding of
the currently available legged platforms that are hydraulically actuated, and the available control techniques that lead to high performance in both locomotion and
Through presentations, discussion panels from experts and an interactive session, our objectives are to
1) survey current designs of existing high-performance hydraulic robots and their performance (e.g. Sarcos CBi, HyQ, FastRunner, Hydroid, KenKen).
2) discuss methods to achieve torque control, robust locomotion over rough terrain and balancing.
3) present recent advances in hydraulic actuator technology, including electro-hydrostatic actuators.
4) critically examine advantages/disadvantages of hydraulic actuation.
5) discuss how to tackle the most critical issues related to hydraulic actuation (e.g. energy efficiency) to make significant advances.

Call for Extended Abstracts (closed)

We invite researchers that design and/or control high-performance hydraulic robots and robotic devices to submit a 2-page extended abstract.
Authors of accepted abstracts will be given the opportunity to present their work during an interactive presentation session, preceded by a 2-minute poster teaser presentation. All accepted abstracts will be included in the conference workshop proceedings.


Please prepare a 2-page extended abstract PDF using the IEEE template (US-letter!) as described on .
Before submitting check your pdf with the IEEE compliance test for ICRA 2013.
Then submit your extended abstract to claudio.semini{at} with the tag [ICRA2013] in the subject line.
Abstracts will be checked by the organizers for suitability for this workshop and completeness, but will not be fully peer-reviewed.

EXTENDED 2-page abstracts submission deadline: March 19th, 2013 (23:59 PST)
Notification of acceptance: March 25th, 2013


Claudio Semini Claudio Semini
Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT)
Advanced Robotics Department

Jonas Buchli Jonas Buchli
ETH Zurich
Agile & Dexterous Robotics Lab

Jerry Pratt Jerry Pratt
Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC)

Ludovic Righetti Ludovic Righetti
Max-Planck-Institute for Intelligent Systems
Autonomous Motion Department

Samer Alfayad Samer Alfayad
Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) and
Universite de Versailles ST-Quntin-En-Yvelines (UVSQ)

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2014 18:27


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