Michael Posa

MIT 32-380
32 Vassar Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
mposa at mit dot edu
Google Scholar



Recent News

  • I am excited to announce that I will be joining the MEAM department at Penn as an assistant professor starting this fall! As I grow my lab, I will be looking for exceptional students. Prospective PhD students should apply through the Penn admissions process. Current Penn students can contact me directly.
  • My defense was on May 9th, video currently available here.
  • Our RSS paper "Balancing and Step Recovery Capturability via Sums-of-Squares Optimization" has been accepted.
  • Our RSS 2017 workshop on Challenges on Dynamic Legged Locomotion has been accepted. Poster submissions are encouraged!
  • Our IROS 2017 workshop on Frontiers in Contact-rich Robotic Interaction: Modeling, Optimization and Control Synthesis has been accepted! Further details soon.

I am a PhD student in the EECS department at MIT, advised by Russ Tedrake in the Robot Locomotion Group within CSAIL.  I am interested in the planning and control of highly dynamic robots interacting with their environment, particularly in the challenges that arise from frictional contact and collisions. I also worked on the control, planning, and operations for the MIT DARPA Robotics Challenge Team.

Much of the source code for my projects is openly available as part of the Drake toolbox or on my personal github.


  • Michael Posa, Twan Koolen, and Russ Tedrake. Balancing and Step Recovery Capturability via Sums-of-Squares Optimization. To appear in Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS), Cambridge, MA, 2017. [.pdf]

Peer-reviewed Publications

  • Twan Koolen, Michael Posa, and Russ Tedrake. Balance control using center of mass height variation: limitations imposed by unilateral contact. In Proceedings of the IEEE/RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids), 2016. Finalist for the Best Oral Paper Award. [pdf][humanoids]
  • Michael Posa, Mark Tobenkin, and Russ Tedrake. Stability analysis and control of rigid-body systems with impacts and friction. IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control (TAC), 61(6):1423 - 1437, June 2016. [pdf] [tac]
  • Michael Posa, Scott Kuindersma, and Russ Tedrake. Optimization and stabilization of trajectories for constrained dynamical systems. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Stockholm, Sweden, May 2016. [.pdf][.mp4] [example][icra]
  • M. Fallon, S. Kuindersma, S. Karumanchi, M. Antone, T. Schneider, H. Dai, C. Pérez D'Arpino, R. Deits, M. DiCicco, D. Fourie, T. Koolen, P. Marion, M. Posa, A. Valenzuela, K. Yu, J. Shah, K. Iagnemma, R. Tedrake, S. Teller. An Architecture for Online Affordance-based Perception and Whole-body Planning, Journal of Field Robotics (JFR), 32(2):229-254, September 2014. [.pdf] [jfr]
  • Michael Posa, Cecilia Cantu, and Russ Tedrake. A direct method for trajectory optimization of rigid bodies through contact. The International Journal of Robotics Research (IJRR), 33(1):69-81, January 2014. [.pdf] [.avi][ijrr]
  • Michael Posa, Mark Tobenkin, and Russ Tedrake.  Lyapunov analysis of rigid body systems with impacts and friction via sums-of-squares. In Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Hybrid Systems: Computation and Control (HSCC), Philadelphia, PA, 2013. Winner of the Best Paper Award. [.pdf] [hscc]
  • Michael Posa and Russ Tedrake. Direct trajectory optimization of rigid body dynamical systems through contact. In Proceedings of the 10th International Workshop on the Algorithmic Foundations of Robotics (WAFR), Cambridge, MA, 2012. [.pdf] [wafr]


  • Michael Posa. Optimization for Control and Planning of Multi-contact Dynamic Motion. PhD thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jun 2017. [.pdf]

Here are recordings of some of the conference and workshop talks that I have given:


2011-2017MIT Robot Locomotion GroupPhD Candidate
2008-2011Vecna RoboticsRobotics Engineer
2007-2008Stanford UniversityMS in Mechanical Engineering
2003-2007Stanford UniversityBS in Mechanical Engineering