Steve W. Heim

PhD Student

Google Scholar

Research Statement

In a broad sense, I'm interested in how nature solves optimality problems, in particular with regard to dynamics and locomotion.
My current focus is on the emergence and structure of different gaits, in particular their dependence on control and morphology. For example, why do horses and camels tend to trot and pace, respectively, at intermediate speeds but walk and gallop in much the same way? Why do ungulates tend to prefer a transverse gallop, whereas greyhounds and cheetahs use a rotary gallop? In particular, how much are these preferences choices and how much are they simply emergent dynamics due to the combination of control, morphology (i.e. mechanics) and environment interaction?

I believe that unlike conventional engineering practices, animals are adept at exploiting non-linearities as opposed to overcoming them. Understanding how animals are able to properly exploit their natural dynamics (control), as well as how their natural dynamics are actually designed (morphology) are key concepts to answering these questions.

I have moved to the Dynamic Locomotion Group in Stuttgart, Germany. I'm still reachable via my gmail account, feel free to get in touch.

Short Biography

I completed my BSc degree in Mechanical Engineering and my MSc in Robotics, Systems and Control at ETH Zurich. During this time I spent a semester at TU Delft and conducted my master thesis at the BioRob lab of prof. Auke Ijspeert at EPFL.

Other Interests

I enjoy photography, music (mostly fingerstyle acoustic guitar), playing go (囲碁) and other games.