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Tri-ATHLETE Footfall Planning Demonstrated at Desert RATS

On September 14th, the Footfall Planning project successfully demonstrated multi-step walking over rocky terrain at the 2010 Desert Research and Technology Studies (D-RATS) field test at Black Point Lava Flow in Arizona. Footfall assists ground controllers commanding ATHLETE to walk over complex terrain by integrating situational awareness, collision-free leg-motion planning, compliance modeling and plan compensation, and stability analysis and gait generation. This successful demonstration at D-RATS 2010 culminates efforts to integrate enhanced capabilities to the Footfall Planning software while supporting migration to a new physical robot and upgrades to many underlying system components.

BACKGROUND: The ATHLETE Footfall Planner is automated analysis and user interface software that facilitates Tri-ATHLETE walking on extreme terrain. Using the Ames Stereo Pipeline (ASP), ATHLETE Footfall processes images from multiple, body-mounted cameras to construct Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) of local terrain. DEMs are then analyzed for traversability, reachability, and stability (polygon of support and tip-over energy) using robot telemetry. An interactive 3D display, Verve, integrated into the ATHLETE Workbench is used to visualize footfall locations. A motion planner is then used to plan an optimized trajectory to a chosen location while safely avoiding self and environmental collisions and kinematic constraints.

The D-RATS field test validates new technologies and operational concepts for future exploration missions. More can be found at

TEAM: Vytas SunSpiral, D.W. Wheeler, with support from the ATHLETE team at JPL

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Human Robotic Systems

Contact: Vytas Sunspiral

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