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Preprints, Working Papers, ... Year : 2024

Contact Models in Robotics: a Comparative Analysis

Abstract

Physics simulation is ubiquitous in robotics. Whether in model-based approaches (e.g., trajectory optimization), or model-free algorithms (e.g., reinforcement learning), physics simulators are a central component of modern control pipelines in robotics. Over the past decades, several robotic simulators have been developed, each with dedicated contact modeling assumptions and algorithmic solutions. In this article, we survey the main contact models and the associated numerical methods commonly used in robotics for simulating advanced robot motions involving contact interactions. In particular, we recall the physical laws underlying contacts and friction (i.e., Signorini condition, Coulomb's law, and the maximum dissipation principle), and how they are transcribed in current simulators. For each physics engine, we expose their inherent physical relaxations along with their limitations due to the numerical techniques employed. Based on our study, we propose theoretically grounded quantitative criteria on which we build benchmarks assessing both the physical and computational aspects of simulation. We support our work with an open-source and efficient C++ implementation of the existing algorithmic variations. Our results demonstrate that some approximations or algorithms commonly used in robotics can severely widen the reality gap and impact target applications. We hope this work will help motivate the development of new contact models, contact solvers, and robotic simulators in general, at the root of recent progress in motion generation in robotics.
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Dates and versions

hal-04067291 , version 1 (13-04-2023)
hal-04067291 , version 2 (21-06-2024)
hal-04067291 , version 3 (21-07-2024)

Identifiers

  • HAL Id : hal-04067291 , version 2

Cite

Quentin Le Lidec, Wilson Jallet, Louis Montaut, Ivan Laptev, Cordelia Schmid, et al.. Contact Models in Robotics: a Comparative Analysis. 2024. ⟨hal-04067291v2⟩
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