Physical Intelligence and legged robotic systems:

What is physical intelligence?

Physical intelligence is a control paradigm rooted in the estimation of the physical model and the state of the system (e.g. the robot and relevant surrounding, i.e. 'world') and a decision making process in the context of the actions needed to achieve a desired physical performance.

While a fair comparison among two control approaches can be only made for the same robot & world, state, task, and success metric, practical physical intelligence seeks “more universal laws” that transcendent these very specific situations and that can be applied across different robots & worlds, states, tasks, and success metrics.


Here, practical physical intelligence is addressed in the context of legged robotic systems. A legged robotic system can be a prosthesis, socket, brace (exoskeleton and/or exomusculature), or an independent robotic system. Some of the present research is in the context of simulation and some is in the context of actual physical hardware:

Single-legged hoper (Bowers, Popovic)
Humanoid robot (Agarwal, Amonlikitsin, Popovic)
Quadrupedal robot (Steidel, Wagner, Popovic)

RoboDog, the first walking robot of that size created at WPI. (Li, Pickett, Popovic)
Hydro Dog, the first bounding quadrupedal robot of that size created at WPI (Fitzgerald, Hunt, Leiro, Popovic)
Kangaroo robot, the first hopping bipedal robot of that size created at WPI (Coffey, Starek, Popovic)
Multi-fiber ankle (Bowers, Popovic)
Variable stiffness legs’ Exoskeleton (Deisadze, Sridar, Popovic)
Legs’ Exomusculature (Benson, Ruotolo, Popovic)
Robotic Socket for Transtibial Amputees (Felix, Tanreverdi, Trivedi, Wenzlaff, Popovic)

Publications and Presentations:

1. Agarwal, Shlok, and Marko Popovic. "Study of toe joints to enhance locomotion of humanoid robots." In 2018 IEEE-RAS 18th International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids), pp. 1039-1044. IEEE, 2018.

Current Researchers:

Shlok Agarwal, Sahawat Amonlikitsin, Matthew Bowers, Michael Steidel, Caleb Wagner, Marko B. Popovic

Past Researchers:

Nicholas Earle Benson, Daniel Patrick Coffey, Nicholas Deisadze, Daniel Felix, Daniel Fitzgerald, Thane Hunt, Andres Leiro, Yunda Li, Michael Pickett, Steven Dean Ruotolo, Saivimal Sridar, Peter Starek, Selim Tanreverdi, Crystal Trivedi, Everett Wenzlaff