We present an efficient optimal control based approach to simulate dynamically correct human movements. We model virtual humans as a kinematic chain consisting of serial, closed-loop, and tree-structures. To overcome the complexity limitations of the classical Lagrangian formulation and to include knowledge from biomechanical studies, we have developed a minimum-torque motion planning method. This new method is based on the use of optimal control theory within a recursive dynamics framework. Our dynamic motion planning methodology achieves high efficiency regardless of the figure topology. As opposed to a Lagrangian formulation, it obviates the need for the reformulation of the dynamic equations for different structured articulated figures.

We use a quasi-Newton method based nonlinear programming technique to solve our minimum torque-based human motion planning problem. This method achieves superlinear convergence. We use the screw theoretical method to compute analytically the necessary gradient of the motion and force. This provides a better conditioned optimization computation and allows the robust and efficient implementation of our method. Cubic spline functions have been used to make the search space for an optimal solution finite.

We demonstrate the efficacy of our proposed method based on a variety of human motion tasks involving open and closed loop kinematic chains. Our models are built using parameters chosen from an anthropomorphic database. The results demonstrate that our approach generates natural looking and physically correct human motions.

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