Stepping over obstacles during locomotion: Insights from multiobjective optimization on set of input parameters

M. Armand, J. P. Huissoon, A. E. Patla

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In this study we investigate possible objectives that the central nervous system (CNS) may consider in planning a strategy for stepping over an obstacle. A link segment simulation model has been developed based on Lagrangian dynamics, with which muscles force inputs can be optimized to best satisfy the postulated objectives for landing stability, obstacle clearance, and efficiency of the movement. A direct optimization approach with multiobjective criteria based on the kinematic and kinetic characteristics of the swing phase of locomotion is used in the simulation. The role of initial conditions at toe-off and biarticular muscle forces during the swing phase was also investigated. The optimization was performed for both leading limb and the trailing limb during the swing phase. The simulation results demonstrate that the use of biarticular muscles is sufficient to clear a range of obstacles with the trailing limb (obstacle encountered during early swing). Stride length or landing stability objectives need not be specified suggesting a simpler control of trailing limb trajectory by the CNS (one of stride length or landing stability objectives were not necessary). In contrast while the use of biarticular muscles can be sufficient to clear obstacles with the leading limb (obstacle encountered during mid to late swing), a stable landing and smooth toe and knee trajectories are compromised without suitable initial conditions at toe-off. The results suggest that the set of postulated objectives for the lead limb is adequate, although not complete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-52
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Biarticular Muscles
  • Biomechanical models
  • Bipedal locomotion
  • Multiobjective optimization
  • Obstacle avoidance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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