Marko B Popović




Soft Robotics Suit (2010-) for physical therapy & rehabilitation, everyday assistance, physical augmentation, teleoperation of real and virtual objects with force/haptic feedback, 3D Internet -- see Unified Media (UnMe), term coined by Dr Popovic in ‘09. Dr Popovic led groups at WPI (Blumenau et al ‘11) and Harvard (Kesner et al ‘11) to obtain basic proofs of concept for this novel approach. All these were made possible with only $2K from the American Institute of Physics and two motors generously donated by Maxon. See for example movie Weight Lifting with Soft Robotics Suit controlled on distance (shoulder robotic brace with embedded artificial muscles & tendons on top of passive mannequin with rigid limbs) joint work with Robert Howe, Harvard, and Ignacio Galiana, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

Complex systems' dynamics research applied to simulation of rapidly growing on-line business network; presented at the Summit Conference Series Future Networks: Economy, Energy, Health held at MIT on October 2, 2009. See webcast and BB page.

Internet/Web based platforms/networks and research with the MIT Center for Future Banking (CFB). Dr Popovic helped build CFB (Bank of America $25 million initiative) as its first Projects Manager. Proposal Business Project Book('08) on how technology may assist the handicapped economy and the CFB's summer '08 projects (majority envisioned/set forth by Dr Popovic) are appended below.


"Bionic Leg" i.e. actively powered prosthetic ankle and foot -- the best invention of the year in the Health Science and Technology according to TIME magazine and CNN (2007). Time Magazine announcement Dr Popovic contribution was in biomechanics, control and early stage device design. Team that worked on this project includes: Hugh Herr (project manager), Samuel Au, Jeff Weber, Chris Barnhart, Max Bernike, Bruce Deffenbaugh etc. (click on images to download movies)

Samuel Au and Hugh Herr are testing one of the first prototypes (Fall 06).
Ground contact in slow motion (sometimes even milliseconds are important)
EMG based control Amputee controls prosthesis by thinking of moving phantom limb.
EMG control on distance Remote robotic foot detects Jeff Weber's movement intentions.

Human(oid) Locomotion. Postures/gestures. Dynamic Balance. Body movements require rapid control of number of mechanical degrees of freedom (via biological muscles or artificial actuators) for an immense variety of intended tasks and complex world (ambience/terrain) conditions -- extremely hard, computationally intense problem for a simple brute-force search / path optimization of the control Lagrangian function. Dr Popovic is researching human biomechanics and neural circuitry to find the underlying "principles/laws". Dr Popovic is then applying that knowledge for design/control of robotic/assistive/augmentative technologies and advancement of health sciences.

Dynamic balance example - "loose" rope walking.
Biologically-inspired tight rope walking (real-time simulation).
3D walking, 16 segment full dynamics model, Coronal plane view.
3D walking, 16 segment full dynamics model, Sagittal plane view.

3D Hula-hoop movements, 16 segment full dynamics model, 3 planes.
A few amateur karate punches in 3D VICON body representation.
Dynamic Balance Zero Moment and Moment strategy.
Exp proof on ZMP & balance Correcting ~3,000 top publications in robotics literature.

The following movies were made by Andreas Hofmann: walking on the rough terrain [mov A], [mov B] and under disturbance [mov].

Internomics How do high-level cognitive functions emerge from primitive neural computations? Teamed with Ed Boyden, Dan Ariely, Deb Roy, James D. Barabas, Barbara Barry, Deborah Egloff, Nathan Greenslit, and Sheng-Ying Pao, Dr Popovic studies, among other, effects of oxytocin -- mammalian hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain (also called LOVE hormone). Developing precise, focal ways of investigating phenomena such as trust and risk-taking, in order to understand how they play roles in various decision-making, investment strategies and other important real-world scenarios. [READ MORE]

OLPC -- The One Laptop Per Child (2007) Dr Marko Popovic, in collaboration with Colin Bulthaup and Hugh Herr, tested metabolic consumption, power generation and efficiency of energy generating peripherals (with experiment participants age 8-12). Dr Marko Popovic, in collaboration with Bruce Deffenbaugh and Lee Magnusson, tested electromechanical properties of the pull-cord and crank devices and proposed improvements. Presented by Marko Popovic (together with an introduction to the H2.0 event ) at the MIT Media Lab - OLPC summit (March 2007). The XO laptop was the best invention in category COMPUTERS. Time Magazine announcement


MyBall - Robotic Soccer/Beach Ball Dr Popovic and Susanne Seitinger designed and constructed lively self-propelled robotic soccer/beach ball (in a single week in summer '05) and then had some fun testing them on the MIT campus. Cornelle King gentlemanly assisted ball to enter elevator.


Responsive Playground Teamed with Susanne Seitinger, Elizabeth Sylvan, Orit Zuckerman, and Oren Zuckerman, Dr Marko Popovic designed and constructed an interactive, pressure sensitive pathway with LEGO Mindstorm spinners that were actuated based on children's spatial location and speed. The diverse play patterns (like active play, fantasy play, exploring how things work and game-building), individual and collective behavior, of twenty children age three to five enrolled in a preschool childcare center were subsequently studied.


Various locomotory
- Angular Momentum Primitives: Modeling of Transients in Human Walking (joint work with Matthew Todd Farrell and Hugh Herr).
- Bipedal Balancing Using Integrated Movement of Non-Contact Limbs (joint work with Andreas Hofmann and Hugh Herr).
- Humanoid Walking Control Using Angular Momentum Partition (joint work with Hugh Herr).
- Leg Orthosis: Assisting in the design of the powered hip-knee-ankle orthosis to assist individuals suffering from neuromuscular disorders (joint work with P. Dilworth, H. Herr etc). [READ MORE]
- Kajita, Popovic, HRP2, and Tedrake in AIST, Tsukuba, Japan. [PHOTO] Wonderful movie with HRP2 dancing. [MOVIE]


Extreme Balance Platform and Dynamic Balance Dr Popovic studied cognitive process of adaptation/learning to novel conditions/tasks. Utilized MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Holodeck room equipped with VICON motion capture system (120 Hz, 1mm precision) and the "extreme balance platform". Joint work with Todd Farell, L. Velti Santos and Walter Bender ('05). In the VICON body representation [MOVIE 0] and [MOVIE 1].


Human-carrying Platform Dr Popovic and Ernesto Martinez build a first prototype of human-carrying platform to study human balance under disturbances (for only $3K total). Goal was to build the state-of-the-art scientific tool for biomechanics / neural control of movements' studies. Planned to carry this concept further and develop a multidirectional walking platform that can be integrated to media-unified VR system. (Realized soon that $3K was not enough) [PHOTO]


Vision System Dr Popovic and Todd Farell developed a first prototype of simple vision system utilizing single stereoscopic camera and algorithm originally created by D. Demirdjian from CSAIL. This vision system was encoding posture information in real time (though at low frequencies & with substantial joint angles' errors). [PHOTO]


Artificial Muscle Hardware design, manufacture and assembly of experimental testing apparatus for DARPA Artificial Muscle Project (Joint work with Waleed Farahat, Ph.D. and several MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program students); tested liquid crystal elastomer thermo-mechanical properties. [PHOTO]


Artificial Finger Designed and constructed lively artificial finger actuated via artificial muscle. [PHOTO]


Before that (till ~2002) Dr Marko Popovic's research has been focused on a very small space-time scales and search for the so-called Higgs particle and physics beyond (one-page) Standard Model of Particle Physics. Dr Popovic built several models predicting new strong interactions that may help answer why there is a surprisingly huge energy gap between the Planck gravity scale (~10^19 GeV) and the Electroweak symmetry breaking scale (vev~246 GeV) and also why top quark has unusually large mass (~vev/sqrt(2)). To be tested at CERN LHC soon.



A few other


Biomechatronics Group -- Technology Review, The MIT Insider, Upland Productions (Professional reporting) Walled Farahat, Dan Paluska and Hugh Herr in this video. [MOVIE]

BioMechatronics The Movie -- Local Media Lab productions; funny movie in the Monty Python style. Fictional content -- Biomechatronics Group is all about helping people and not about hurting / controlling them! Ones creating technologies for the benefit of humanity are allowed to make fun of themselves. [MOVIE]

Get back up Truly inspirational video, especially for those working on bionic limbs. Australia born Nick Vujicic ('82) of Serbian origin is a motivational speaker and director of Life Without Limbs, an organization for the physically disabled. [Youtube] or [MOVIE]

Cool mobile (mostly legged) robots:

HRP2 dancing


ASIMO new version

SONY dancing

TOYOTA Robina plays violin

Dancing Sony Robots

Boston Dynamics' PETMAN

Boston Dynamics' BIG DOG

MIT Leg Lab M2

MIT M2 portrait

MIT Leg Lab Troody

MIT Leg Lab Spring Flamingo

MIT Leg Lab Hopper

Attilla dancing


A bit outdated
Talks & Lectures:


"What biomechanics teaches us about biped control design," International Conference on Robotics: Science and Systems, Workshop: Learning for Locomotion, MIT June 11, 2005. (joint work with A. Hofmann and H. Herr, presented by H. Herr) [PPT presentation]
movie 1 Man on the tight rope
movie 2 Balance Test
movie 3 Lateral Push & Fall
movie 4 Lateral Push & Walk
movie 5 Trip & Walk

"Evolution of prosthetics," Med Development Group meeting at the Silicon Valley Bank, Massachusetts, April, 2005. (joint work with Biomechatronics group, presented by M. B. Popovic) [PPT presentation]
movie 1 Ankle-Foot Orthosis (AFO) & Drop-Foot Gait
movie 2 Variable-Damper Knee Prosthesis
movie 3 Muscle-actuated robotic fish
movie 4 Muscle testing apparatus
movie 5 Lateral Balance
movie 6 Sagittal Balance
movie 7 Tight Rope Balancing (slow motion)
movie 8 Tight Rope Balancing (real time)

"Biologically Realistic Humanoid Robot Control," Graphics and Vision Group meeting , Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, MIT, March, 2005. (joint work with H. Herr, presented by M. B. Popovic) [PPT presentation]
movie 1 Hulahop in Sagittal Plane
movie 2 Hulahop in Coronal Plane
movie 3 Walking in Sagittal Plane
movie 4 Walking in Coronal Plane

"Angular Momentum Primitives for Human Walking: Biomechanics and Control," International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems , Sendai, Japan, October, 2004. (joint work with A. Englehart and H. Herr, presented by M. B. Popovic) [PPT presentation]
movie Walking in real time

"Angular Momentum Regulation during Human Walking: Biomechanics and Control," International Conference on Robotics and Automation , New Orleans, LA, April, 2004. (joint work with A. Hofmann and H. Herr, presented by M. B. Popovic) [PPT presentation]

"Human Movement Control: The Regulation of Angular Momentum in the CM frame," NeuroMuscular Research Center Lecture Series , Boston University, Boston, March, 2003. (joint work with H. Herr, presented by M. B. Popovic) [PPT presentation]