A robot's physical form and its motion are innately coupled - in order to change its physical design, one must often change the way it moves, and vice versa. Can computers automatically and simultaneously design robot structure and motion?
We present parametric trajectory optimization, a method for simultaneously computing physical parameters, actuation requirements, and robot motions for more efficient robot designs. In this scheme, robot dimensions, masses, and other physical parameters are solved for concurrently with traditional motion planning variables, including dynamically consistent robot states, actuation inputs, and contact forces. Our method requires minimal user domain knowledge, requiring only a coarse guess of the target robot configuration sequence and a parameterized robot topology as input. We demonstrate that by optimizing robot body parameters aside robot trajectories, infeasible problems can become feasible, and actuation requirements can be significantly reduced.