Departmental Papers (ESE)


An autonomous machine requires a description of its designated task in a language that it ‘understands’. The machine language of robots — physical mechanisms endowed with actuators and sensory devices for the purpose of performing work — is the language of dynamical systems. Since the diversity of robotic tasks is immense and our practical experience with computationally well endowed sensed and actuated mechanisms is still very slight, there seems little possibility of imposing at present a meaningful uniformity of description and command methodology on the practice of building these machines. However, a number of thematic desiderata can be articulated whose pursuit will arguably increase the ease of designing robotic algorithms that are predictably successful. This paper presents a summary of our approach to a number of robotic tasks that brings out by example the nature and utility of these desiderata.

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Document Type

Journal Article

Subject Area

GRASP, Kodlab

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Robotics and Autonomous Systems





Start Page


Last Page





Postprint version. Published in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Volume 9, Issue 1, 1992, pages 5–39. DOI: 10.1016/0921–8890(92)90031-S

NOTE: At the time of publication, author Daniel Koditschek was affiliated with Yale University. Currently, he is a faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.

Bib Tex

@article{ koditschek-jras-1992, author = {D.E. Koditschek}, title = {Task Encoding: Toward a Scientific Paradigm for Robot Planning and Control}, journal ={Journal of Robotics and Autonomous Systems}, volume = {9}, number = {1}, year = {1992}, pages = {5-39}, }



Date Posted: 29 September 2014

This document has been peer reviewed.