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Dynamic Walking Workshop June 2013

The OpenSim team is running a workshop for the Dynamic Walking 2013 Annual meeting at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

This workshop will cover the development and simulation of a passive dynamic walker in OpenSim.  Participants will be introduced to the OpenSim tools in both the standalone GUI and the new Matlab scripting tools.  How far can you get your model to walk? We'll guide you along the design of your own walker. No prior OpenSim experience is necessary.

This wiki page directs the participants to all of the materials and instructions for the workshop.

Here is the tutorial that we will be going through during the workshop: Dynamic Walking Challenge: Go the Distance!. The page includes step-by-step instructions, links to the required OpenSim models, and many handy Matlab scripts.

Preparation for the Workshop

  1. Install OpenSim: Download the OpenSim 3.1 from the OpenSim downloads page at simtk.org. Participants should either bring a PC laptop with OpenSim installed, or be prepared to team up with other participants. Here are installation instructions.
  2. Setup Matlab: There is a particularly exciting part of the tutorial which requires that users have Matlab installed. We support both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Matlab. See Scripting with Matlab to configure Matlab to recognize OpenSim, and see this page to learn what you can do with OpenSim in Matlab.
  3. Download example materials: You can download the model files and example scripts for the workshop here.
  4. Find the instructions: A step by step guide for the tutorial can be found on the page Dynamic Walking Challenge: Go the Distance!

We hope you will be able to set up your environment properly before you arrive, but we'll be glad to help you with these steps during the workshop.

Post Workshop Update

We have added two models to the starter zip file now posted on Simtk. These models can be used to complete the walking challenge. These files are:

  1. DW2013_WalkerModelTerrainAddMagnet.osim - This file uses ExpressionBasedPointToPointForces to create a magnet attractor between a point on the thigh and a point on the shank

  2. DW2013_WalkerModelTerrainAddFeet.osim - This file adds ContactMesh geometry for a cylindrical foot with a large radius of curvature to be used in an elastic foundation model of contact.

Both models have editable properties that can be accessed in the OpenSim GUI properties panel.  For the magnet model, consider changing the location of the points and the expression of the curve to tune your magnet extension moment.  For the custom feet model, consider changing the location of the foot relative to the shank by editing the weld joint description in the navigator pane.

Share your Scripts

If, during the workshop or afterwards, you develop any models or Matlab scripts that you'd like to share with other workshop participants, email them to Chris Dembia and we'll post them right here. Please include DWC2013 in the subject line, and be sure to credit yourself inside the files you send.

Helpful Examples and Resources

If you're eager to learn about OpenSim before the workshop, visit other Examples and Tutorials.

Since we'll be using OpenSim's Matlab scripting functionality, you may benefit from reading Scripting with Matlab.

When writing Matlab scripts, it will be helpful to learn about OpenSim classes by browsing its Doxygen C++ API documentation.

To learn about Simbody, the physics engine behind OpenSim, visit Multibody Dynamics Concepts (Simbody).

To learn more about OpenSim in general, visit http://opensim.stanford.edu/.


Workshop Feedback: We hope you'll find a moment at the end of the workshop to fill out our feedback form. There are only 3 required questions, so it should be quick!


  • Ajay Seth
  • Dan Jacobs
  • Chris Dembia
  • Scott Delp

Workshop Slides

Coming Soon

Video Gallery

Submit a video of your walkers going the distance! We'll post them here for others to see. To submit, either upload your video to Youtube and email Chris Dembia a link, or grab one of us in the workshop, and we'll get it from you on a flash drive.

OpenSim is supported by the Mobilize Center , an NIH Biomedical Technology Resource Center (grant P41 EB027060); the Restore Center , an NIH-funded Medical Rehabilitation Research Resource Network Center (grant P2C HD101913); and the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance through the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation. See the People page for a list of the many people who have contributed to the OpenSim project over the years. ©2010-2024 OpenSim. All rights reserved.