Controlling Physics-Based Characters Using Soft Contacts
In this paper, we investigate the impact of the deformable bodies on the control algorithms for physically simulated characters. We hypothesize that ignoring the effect of deformable bodies at the site of contact negatively affects the control algorithms, leading to less robust and unnatural character motions. To verify the hypothesis, we introduce a compact representation for an articulated character with deformable soft tissue and develop a practical system to simulate two-way coupling between rigid and deformable bodies in a robust and efficient manner. We then apply a few simple and widely used control algorithms, such as pose-space tracking control, Cartesian-space tracking control, and a biped controller (SIMBICON), to simulate a variety of behaviors for both full-body locomotion and hand manipulation. We conduct a series of experiments to compare our results with the motion generated by these algorithms on a character comprising only rigid bodies. The evaluation shows that the character with soft contact can withstand larger perturbations in a more noisy environment, as well as produce more realistic motion.