Renaud Ronsse
Recent publications

has always been intrigued by the neural control of human movements, and the way these principles can be transferred to human-centered robotics. Consequently, he is mainly active in the field of bio-inspired robotics, i.e. the design and control of robots obeying principles that are directly inspired by nature. This holds both regarding design issues, i.e. in the mechanical structure and actuation principles of the robot’s body; and control issues, i.e. in the algorithmic laws governing the robot behavior. His main application fields are medical robotics and humanoid robotics. In the former, he is active in the design and control of assistive and rehabilitation robots, mainly for the lower-limb. Bio-inspiration consists for instance in embedding elastic elements within the robot mechanical structure, thus reproducing muscle-like compliance. At the control level, he develops rehab robots whose behavior is governed by virtual spinal neural circuitries. This is well exemplified by the EU collaborative projects CYBERLEGs and CYBERLEGs++. Regarding humanoid robotics, he is again mainly involved in bio-inspired locomotion. His research driver is to design humanoid robot achieving better locomotion skills because they emulate human behavior. This is well exemplified by the EU collaborative project WALK-MAN. More recently, Renaud Ronsse developed an interest for the biomechanics of animals exchanging forces with the fluid they evolve in. He started a new collaborative research agenda to unveil the efficiency optimization mechanisms deployed by biological swimmers and flyers. Again, compliance and neural-like control structures are thought to play a significant role in this line of research.

IMMC main research direction(s):
Biomedical engineering
Dynamical and electromechanical systems

multi-body systems

Research group(s): MEED


PhD and Post-doc researchers under my supervision:

COMPACTSWIM : compliant actuation and embodied intelligence in biomimetic propulsion for swimming : principles, simulation, and design.
Caroline Bernier

This project is in between Robotics and Fluid Mechanics and aims at the design of robust and efficient biomimetic swimming agents. The approach used to tackle the problem distinguishes itself from a broad body of work by a unique combination of multi-disciplinary tools: (i) high-fidelity Computational Fluid Dynamics to simulate self-propelled swimmers; (ii) compliant actuators to generate energy-efficient force-controlled patterns; (iii) oscillator-based coordination to distribute the computational load within a biologically inspired controller; and (iv) advanced optimization algorithm to calibrate the control schemes for a large variety of gaits. Different and complementary swimming gaits will be investigated, like energy-efficient or fast. Using compliant actuators will allow the swimmer to sense the fluid reactions being useful for its propulsion and exploit energy storage in the elastic deformations of the actuator.

Designing the next generation of ankle prostheses: towards efficient and lightweight designs
François Heremans

Over the last decade, active lower-limb prostheses demonstrated their ability to restore a physiological gait for transfemoral amputees by supplying the required positive energy balance during daily life locomotion activities.
However, the added-value of such devices is significantly impacted by their limited energetic autonomy, excessive weight and cost preventing their full appropriation by the users. There is thus a strong incentive to produce active yet affordable, lightweight and energy efficient devices.
To address these issues, we are developing the ELSA (Efficient Lockable Spring Ankle) prosthesis embedding both a lockable parallel spring and a series elastic actuator, tailored to the walking dynamics of a sound ankle. The first contribution concerns the developement of a bio-inspired, lightweight and stiffness adjustable parallel spring, comprising an energy efficient ratchet and pawl mechanism with servo actuation. The second contribution is the addition of a complementary rope-driven series elastic actuator to generate the active push-off.
Our new system produces a sound ankle torque pattern during flat ground walking. Up to 50% of the peak torque is generated passively at a negligible energetic cost (0.1 J/stride). By design, the total system is lightweight (1.2 kg) and low cost.

Modelisation and optimization of bird flight
Victor Colognesi

This research project aims at modeling and optimizing bird flight. The goal of this modelization is to get a deep understanding of the mechanisms that govern avian flight and the best way to understand it is to re-create it. That is, the flight will be modeled starting from the given anatomy of a bird and the kinematics will be the result of an optimization process aiming at the most optimal flight.
Compared to other existing studies on the subject of bird flight, this project will follow a "bottom-up" approach, all the way from muscle activation, up to the wing aerodynamics and gait optimization. This approach is necessary to be able to evaluate key values such as metabolic rates, ...
This will allow us to answer a few questions such as :
- What are the mechanisms enabling high efficiency in bird flight ?
- How do we achieve a stable flapping flight ?
This work is purely numerical. The bio-mechanical model of the bird is developed using the multi-body solver Robotran developed at UCL. This bio-mechanical model will be coupled to an aerodynamical model based on a vortex particle-mesh code (VPM) developed at UCL as well.

Bio-inspired neural control for a new generation of transfemoral prostheses
Sophie Heins

Designing mechanical devices to restore natural locomotion for transfemoral amputees still raises many challenges. One of them is the development of an efficient control strategy for the prosthesis active joints, with the objective of making it flexible and intuitive to use. The aim of the PhD thesis is to develop a bio-inspired controller for a new generation of transfemoral prostheses, the CYBERLEGs prosthesis, for level-ground walking and for other locomotion tasks. The controller is based on three fundamental neuro-mechanical principles that were observed in healthy humans: motor primitives, local reflexes and postural support. This work also involves the investigation of the optimal combination of these bio-inspired strategies.

Hamed Rahimi Nohooji

CYBERLEGs Plus Plus, acronym for “The CYBERnetic LowEr-Limb CoGnitive Ortho-prosthesiS Plus Plus”, is an Innovation Action project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Gennaro Vitucci

Currently under investigation is a reductionist model of flight of birds. Main focuses are a neuromuscular control system and fluid-solid interaction at wing level both for a single agent and large flocks.

Flight Control and Wake Characterization of Migratory Birds
Gianmarco Ducci

The RevealFlight project aims at shedding light on the efficiency optimization mechanisms deployed by biological flyers, with a specific focus on migratory birds. The efficiency-seeking mechanisms will be sought through the numerical reproduction of flight that includes the morphology, the neuro-muscular configuration and the gait generation. This resulting gait then exploits aerodynamics at the scale of an individual (unsteady lift generation) and at the level of the flock (formation flight). This project thus proposes to synthesize the flight mechanics of birds into a unified framework, combining bio-mechanical, sensory, aerodynamic and social interaction models, in order to reproduce the flying gaits and the interactions within a flock.
A neuro-mechanical model of the birds is currently under development, capturing bio-inspired principles both in the wing bio-mechanics (e.g. structure and compliance) and in its coordinated control (through e.g. a network of coordinated oscillators). The dynamics of this model will be solved by means a multi-body solver and in turn, coupled to a massively parallel flow solver (an implementation of the Vortex Particle-Mesh method) in order to capture the bird’s wake up to the scales of the flock. The study of self-organization phenomena and inter-bird interactions are currently beginning on simple conceptual models, and will be gradually extended to more advanced models developed during the project. It will aim at comparing the efficiency of flocks of selfish flyers with that of flocks in which collaboration takes place, whether implicitly or explicitly.
In my global project picture, the following bottom-up strategy will be adopted:
- Wake characterization: This task studies the wake in terms of the vortex dynamics at play over long distances. The candidate will perform simulations of flying agents in long computational domains in order to capture the wake behavior (topology, instabilities and decay) over longer times and larger scales. This will provide another basis of validation of the project results, given the volume of work on bird wakes;
- Flight stabilization in turbulent or wake-impacted flow: This task aims at the realization of a stabilized flight within a perturbed flow. Two perturbations are envisioned: ambient turbulence and an analytical wake composed of two counter-rotating vortices. Il will Combine previously synthesized gaits and control schemes in order to study the stability of the flyer in a turbulent flow or inside a wake;
- Maneuvers: This task realizes the first maneuvers of the virtual flyer: avoidance and trajectory tracking that will be leveraged in the simulation of multiple flyers that need to interact and swap places. In the present task, this trajectory is still prescribed, in a step towards an autonomous decision-making agent. In order to realize maneuvers, this task implements a control layer above the controllers developed in earlier tasks. Complex maneuvers will be achieved by closing the loop between trajectory errors and the inputs of the lower level controller.

Locomotion assistance through active motor primitives
Henri Laloyaux

This project is about the development and validation of a new method for assisting human locomotion with robotic devices. It will be based on so-called “motor primitives”, i.e. fundamental units of action which have been identified in the human locomotor apparatus. These primitives will be constrained to be mathematical functions with a limited number of open parameters, therefore optimizing the computational efficiency. Next, the assistance will be designed to be adaptive to the user’s particular gait and status. Finally, some primitives will be specifically developed to support the user’s balance, on top of delivering energy for assisting locomotion. These three objectives will require first theoretical developments, and then experimental validation.

Captive Trajectory System for the handling of wake-impacted flow devices
Emile Moreau

The main objective of the thesis is to develop a Captive Trajectory System (CTS) for the handling of wake-impacted flow devices that are free flying or swimming, such as aircrafts or bio-inspired robots. Which means that there is no other external force applied on those models, barring gravity, than the one applied by the fluid.
The envisioned facility will be unique at an international level. At the same time, its scope of applications will be quite wide, covering, but not limited to, applied and fundamental fluid mechanics (fluid-structure interaction problems), biomechanics (biolocomotion), and civil engineering (wind or flow-structure interactions). Additionally, we see this project as a first foray into the emerging field of experimental studies augmented by Artificial Intelligence or co-simulation.
Nowadays, this is not experimentally achievable by the use of Lab facilities, because they only allow, at most, horizontal and vertical displacements and do not feature any force or motion control. Hence, the goal of this thesis, of a rather experimental nature, is to design a robotic system – possibly partially immersed – whose precision, sensing and control capabilities will be able to handle free-moving devices, and to validate fluid-structure interaction models developed by various IMMC research teams, also involved in the project.

Detecting and using locomotion affordances for lower-limb prostheses by active vision
Ali Hussein Al-Dabbagh

Healthy lower-limb biomechanics reveals that active prostheses are necessary to provide amputees with human-like dynamics in various locomotion tasks like walking or stair ascending/descending. Ali’s project is about the specific challenges associated to the transition between two of these tasks, where the control parameters of the device has to be smoothly and timely adapted. Active vision is proposed to be used to augment the prosthesis with vision-based detection of possible locomotion affordances, therefore anticipating these transitions as a function of the user’s behavior.

PaDAWAn: Parkinson's Disease - Adaptive Walking Assistance
Virginie Otlet

Recent publications

See complete list of publications

Journal Articles

1. Al-Dabbagh, Ali Hussein; Ronsse, Renaud. A review of terrain detection systems for applications in locomotion assistance. In: Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Vol. 133, p. 103628 (2020). doi:10.1016/j.robot.2020.103628.

2. Van der Noot, Nicolas; Ijspeert, Auke Jan; Ronsse, Renaud. Neuromuscular model achieving speed control and steering with a 3D bipedal walker. In: Autonomous Robots, Vol. 43, p. 1537-1554 (2019). doi:10.1007/s10514-018-9814-6.

3. Bernier, Caroline; Gazzola, Mattia; Ronsse, Renaud; Chatelain, Philippe. Simulations of propelling and energy harvesting articulated bodies via vortex particle-mesh methods. In: Journal of Computational Physics, Vol. 392, p. 34-55 (1 september 2019). doi:10.1016/

4. Leconte, Patricia; Stoquart, Gaëtan; Lejeune, Thierry; Ronsse, Renaud. Rhythmic robotic training enhances motor skills of both rhythmic and discrete upper-limb movements after stroke : a longitudinal pilot study. In: International Journal of Rehabilitation Research, Vol. 42(1):46-55., no. 1, p. 46-55 (2019). doi:10.1097/mrr.0000000000000325.

5. Van der Noot, Nicolas; Ijspeert, Auke Jan; Ronsse, Renaud. Bio-inspired controller achieving forward speed modulation with a 3D bipedal walker. In: The International Journal of Robotics Research, Vol. 37, p. 168-196 (2018). doi:10.1177/0278364917743320.

6. Heins, Sophie; Flynn, Louis; Geeroms, Joost; Lefeber, Dirk; Ronsse, Renaud. Torque control of an active elastic transfemoral prosthesis via quasi-static modelling. In: Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Vol. 107, p. 100-115 (2018). doi:10.1016/j.robot.2018.05.015.

7. Yan, Tingfang; Parri, Andrea; Ruiz Garate, Virginia; Cempini, Marco; Ronsse, Renaud; Vitiello, Nicola. An oscillator-based smooth real-time estimate of gait phase for wearable robotics. In: Autonomous Robots, Vol. 41, no. 3, p. 759–774 (2017). doi:10.1007/s10514-016-9566-0.

8. Ruiz Garate, Virginia; Parri, Andrea; Yan, Tingfang; Munih, Marko; Molino Lova, Raffaele; Vitiello, Nicola; Ronsse, Renaud. Experimental Validation of Motor Primitive-Based Control for Leg Exoskeletons during Continuous Multi-Locomotion Tasks. In: Frontiers in Neurorobotics, Vol. 11, p. 15 (2017). doi:10.3389/fnbot.2017.00015.

9. Zobova, Alexandra; Habra, Timothée; Van der Noot, Nicolas; Dallali, Houman; Tsagarakis, Nikolaos G.; Fisette, Paul; Ronsse, Renaud. Multi-physics modelling of a compliant humanoid robot. In: Multibody System Dynamics, Vol. 39, no.1-2, p. 95-114 (2017). doi:10.1007/s11044-016-9545-4.

10. Leconte, Patricia; Ronsse, Renaud. Performance-based robotic assistance during rhythmic arm exercises. In: Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, Vol. 13, no.1, p. 82 (2016). doi:10.1186/s12984-016-0189-7.


1. Everarts, Christophe; Dehez, Bruno; Ronsse, Renaud. Continuously Variable Planetary Transmission.

Conference Papers

1. Heremans, François; Vijayakumar, Sethu; Bouri, Mohamed; Dehez, Bruno; Ronsse, Renaud. Bio-inspired design and validation of the Efficient Lockable Spring Ankle (ELSA) prosthesis. In: 2019 IEEE 16th International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR), IEEE, 2019, 9781728127552. doi:10.1109/icorr.2019.8779421.

2. Laloyaux, Henri; Ronsse, Renaud. Extraction of Simple Monophasic Motor Primitives towards Bio-Inspired Locomotion Assistance. In: 2019 IEEE International Conference on Cyborg and Bionic Systems, 2019. doi:10.1109/CBS46900.2019.9114458.

3. Bernier, Caroline; Gazzola, Mattia; Ronsse, Renaud; Chatelain, Philippe. Numerical simulations and environment sensing strategies for robotic swimmers at low Reynolds number.

4. Heins, Sophie; Flynn, Louis; Geeroms, Joost; Lefeber, Dirk; Ronsse, Renaud. Quasi-Static Modelling of a Redundant Knee Prosthesis. In: 2018 7th IEEE International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (Biorob), IEEE, 2018, 978-1-5386-8183-1. doi:10.1109/biorob.2018.8487632.

5. Heremans, François; Dehez, Bruno; Ronsse, Renaud. Design and Validation of a Lightweight Adaptive and Compliant Locking Mechanism for an Ankle Prosthesis. In: 2018 7th IEEE International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (Biorob), IEEE, 2018, 978-1-5386-8183-1. doi:10.1109/biorob.2018.8487209.

6. Greiner, Philippe; Van Der Noot, Nicolas; Ijspeert, Auke Jan; Ronsse, Renaud. Continuous Modulation of Step Height and Length in Bipedal Walking, Combining Reflexes and a Central Pattern Generator. In: 2018 7th IEEE International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (Biorob), IEEE, 2018, 978-1-5386-8183-1. doi:10.1109/biorob.2018.8487799.

7. Bernier, Caroline; Gazzola, Mattia; Chatelain, Philippe; Ronsse, Renaud. Numerical Simulations and Development of Drafting Strategies for Robotic Swimmers at Low Reynolds Number. In: 2018 7th IEEE International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (Biorob), IEEE, 2018, 978-1-5386-8183-1. doi:10.1109/biorob.2018.8488055.

8. Harding, Matthew; Van der Noot, Nicolas; Somers, Bruno; Ronsse, Renaud; Ijspeert, Auke Jan. Augmented Neuromuscular Gait Controller Enables Real-time Tracking of Bipedal Running Speed. In: 2018 7th IEEE International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (Biorob), IEEE, 2018, 978-1-5386-8183-1. doi:10.1109/biorob.2018.8488054.

9. Habra, Timothée; Grotz, Markus; Sippel, David; Asfour, Tamim; Ronsse, Renaud. Multimodal gaze stabilization of a humanoid robot based on reafferences. In: 2017 IEEE-RAS 17th International Conference on Humanoid Robotics (Humanoids), IEEE, 2017, 978-1-5386-4678-6. doi:10.1109/humanoids.2017.8239536.

10. Heremans, François; Ronsse, Renaud. Design of an energy efficient transfemoral prosthesis using lockable parallel springs and electrical energy transfer. In: Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR), 2017 International Conference on. Vol. 0, no.0, p. 1305-1312 (2017). doi:10.1109/ICORR.2017.8009429.

Book Chapters

1. Ronsse, Renaud. Bio-inspired Walking: From Humanoids to Assistive Devices. In: Biosystems & Biorobotics : Wearable Robotics: Challenges and Trends (Wearable Robotics: Challenges and Trends; xxx), Springer: Cham, 2019, p. 271-275. 9783030018863. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-01887-0_52.

2. Ronsse, Renaud; Lefèvre, Philippe. Bio-Inspired Robotics: From Rehabilitation to Human Augmentation. In: The Genesis of Concepts and the Confrontation of Rationalities (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium; xxx), Peeters: Louvain, 2018, p. 245. 978-90-429-3597-6.

3. Habra, Timothée; Dallali, Houman; Cardellino, Alberto; Natale, Lorenzo; Tsagarakis, Nikolaos; Fisette, Paul; Ronsse, Renaud. Robotran-YARP interface: a framework for real-time controller developments based on multibody dynamics simulations. In: Multibody Dynamics Computational Methods and Applications , Springer International Publishing, 2016. 978-3-319-30612-4. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-30614-8.