Single-unit pattern generators for quadruped locomotion

Gregory Morse, Sebastian Risi, Charles R Snyder, Kenneth O Stanley

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Legged robots can potentially venture beyond the limits of wheeled vehicles. While creating controllers for such robots by hand is possible, evolutionary algorithms are an alternative that can reduce the burden of hand-crafting robotic controllers. Although major evolutionary approaches to legged locomotion can generate oscillations through popular techniques such as continuous time recurrent neural networks (CTRNNs) or sinusoidal input, they typically face a challenge in maintaining long-term stability. The aim of this paper is to address this challenge by introducing an effective alternative based on a new type of neuron called a single-unit pattern generator (SUPG). The SUPG, which is indirectly encoded by a compositional pattern producing network (CPPN) evolved by HyperNEAT, produces a flexible temporal activation pattern that can be reset and repeated at any time through an explicit trigger input, thereby allowing it to dynamically recalibrate over time to maintain stability. The SUPG approach, which is compared to CTRNNs and sinusoidal input, is shown to produce natural-looking gaits that exhibit superior stability over time, thereby providing a new alternative for evolving oscillatory locomotion.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 15th annual conference on Genetic and evolutionary computation : GECCO '13
Number of pages8
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date6 Jul 2013
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-1963-8
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2013


  • Legged Robotics
  • Evolutionary Algorithms
  • Locomotion Stability
  • Single-Unit Pattern Generator (SUPG)
  • HyperNEAT


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