Programming of complex motor skills for humanoid robots can be a time intensive task, particularly within conventional textual or GUI-driven programming paradigms. Addressing this drawback, we propose a new programming-by-demonstration method called
for teaching motor skills to humanoid robots by means of intuitive physical interactions. Here, “programming” simply consists of manually moving the robot’s joints so as to demonstrate the skill in mind. The bootstrapping algorithm then generates a low-dimensional model of the demonstrated postures. To find a trajectory through this posture space that corresponds to a robust robot motion, a learning phase takes place in a physics-based virtual environment. The virtual robot’s motion is optimized via a genetic algorithm and the result is transferred back to the physical robot. The method has been successfully applied to the learning of various complex motor skills such as walking and standing up.