Lifelike Robotic Motion (1999)

A Layered Architecture for Lifelike Robotic Motion

This research introduces an architecture for the synthesis of realistic and emotionally expressive robotic motion. The work borrows heavily from the computer graphics and classical animation communities, which emphasize perceptual realism of motion rather than mechanical efficiency. Principles of traditional animation, as articulated over the last century, are algorithmically embodied in our work, serving to create a sense of character and presence in a robot.

Our architecture represents motion as layers of periodic function primitives. These primitives form more complex behaviors that are combined and sequenced by the Motion Compositor, a module that is parameterized by control weights determined by higher-level abstractions. A signal-processing module modifies the overall synthesized motion, providing a complementary method for global control of affect.

The layered motion architecture was used to explore the emerging field of personal robotics. In particular, experiments with emotional communication between a physically embodied robot and humans. 


Snibbe, S., Scheeff, M. and Rahardja, K., A Layered Architecture for Lifelike Robotic Motion. Proceedings of The 9th International Conference on Advanced Robotics ('99 ICAR), October 1999.


Rob Tow initiated the original robotics project at Interval and provided the founding principles for exploring an emotionally expressive robot. Jesse Dorogusker, John Ananny, Paul Korff, Gerald Rogerson, Brad Niven, Dan Psomas and the rest of the Interval Shop staff have all made strong contributions to the robot. Jesse was also responsible for our game controller retrofit. Chris Kline, an Interval fellow from the MIT Media Laboratory’s Synthetic Characters group, provided many productive discussions during his one-month stay at Interval.