My Thoughts on RSS’19



The Conference

Slides from A. Bicchi during the closing presentation.


Research Trends

Paper Awards

My Favorite Presentations and Papers

There is always a room for improvement


Numerical Optimization for Online Multi-Contact Motion Planning and Control

Contact Modeling

  • Is a trending topic (including contact modeling/scheduling).
  • People are diverging away from the rigid contact model. Either for computational reasons or for modeling of compliant environments. Yet, “It’s complicated”, as Andrea del Prete said.
  • Mujoco and its soft contact modeling seems to be taking over the community. Not just the simulator itself, but also the state of the art techniques used in trajectory optimization are competing.

Whole Body Optimization

  • Whole-body optimization (including whole-body control (WBC) and whole-body MPC) is getting more and more important. Initialization (with offline optimization or ML) of such nonlinear systems is a key point.
  • Researchers are moving far from the cascaded (pipelined) architecture of locomotion (the famous locomotion architecture from from the DARPA Robotics Challenge).
  • MPC and control theory experts (e.g. Moritz Diehl) are finally getting interested in state-dependent switching dynamic systems (such as legged robots).

(Deep) Learning

Closing the Reality Gap in Sim2real Transfer for Robotic Manipulation

Emo Todorov

  • Emo verbally mentioned that he is less in favor of model free RL. Todorov clarified by saying that stochasticity is not essential, the world (and controls) is rather deterministic. I remember that he raised a similar argument in CoRL’18 saying that “the robot only gets shaky when you plug in a model free RL to it”.
  • Emo also was in favor of working on something like feedback linearizion. In a sense that we should make a controller that makes the robot behave like in simulation rather than perfecting a simulator.

Learning Locomotion

Final Thoughts




I try to make robots walk.

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Shamel Fahmi

Shamel Fahmi

I try to make robots walk.

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