THING – subTerranean Haptic INvestiGator

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Compared with wheels, legs can provide superior mobility and agility: scaling obstacles, leveraging the environment adapting to the condition of terrain and executing dynamic manoeuvres. Thanks to legs is possible to adapt to the condition of terrain to jump or scale obstacles. However, such
advanced mobility requires advanced perception.
For a such kind of movement robot should know the geometry of the environment (i.e. where it can place its feet), but critically, the robot needs awareness of its physical properties (e.g. friction of a wet slope, compliance of soft dirt, stability of a rock formation), in order to decide where and how
it ought to place its feet.

Since it’s kick-off, THING aims to advance the perceptual capabilities of highly mobile legged platforms through haptic perception and active exploration.
In this light, THING developed:

  1. Novel foot designs for enhanced tactile perception and locomotion,
  2. Improved perceptual capability, enriching existing modalities (lidar, vision) with haptic information,
  3. Heightened physical sense of the environment, including friction, ground stability (difficult through vision alone), and
  4. Enhanced mobility through improved perception, prediction, and control.

The scientific objective of this project is to create a new technology able to meet the requirements of the public sector as well as those of private industry, especially the mining and and inspection domains.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 780883.

(In the picture: self-adaptive robotic foot equipped with IMU sensors for posture reconstruction).