I'm Stéphane Caron, a locomotion software engineer at ANYbotics working with fantastic ANYmal quadrupeds. Before that, I was researcher in humanoid locomotion at CNRS in the IDH team in Montpellier, France, and visiting its sister laboratory JRL in Tsukuba, Japan. In both groups I've had the chance to work with excellent HRP humanoid robots.
How can we make legged robots walk better? At first, I thought their main limitation came from walking pattern generation, and studied that hard, before coming to the conclusion that the technological bottleneck lied elsewhere. I then switched from Python to C++ and developed an open-source walking controller to make the HRP-4 humanoid climb stairs. In 2019, we used it in an industrial demonstrator at the Airbus Saint-Nazaire factory with the robot going through a pre-defined scenario: locate the staircase, climb it, go to a table, pick up a workpiece there, apply it to the fuselage of an aircraft, etc.
Yet, HRP-4 and its fellow robots have the potential to walk in even more general scenarios. In this big picture, I focus on improving their balancing and decision making strategies. These are exciting questions to work on!... How can we make legged robots walk better?
I believe that we researchers should always distribute our source code. A key feature of scientific research is reproducibility, yet in an applied and multi-disciplinary field like robotics, research papers often lack technical details. Sometimes it is because our manuscript focusses on one part of a large complex system. Sometimes we describe a whole general system but only implement one part of it for a demonstration. It doesn't matter! What matters is sharing source code. Explanations can be vague or incomplete, but at the end of the day, code is law.