SoftBank Robotics documentation What's new in NAOqi 2.8?


Overview | API

What it does

The ALMotion module provides methods which facilitate making the robot move.


It contains four major groups of methods for controlling the:

  • joint stiffness (basically motor On-Off): see Stiffness control,
  • joint position (interpolation, reactive control): see Joint control,
  • walk (distance and velocity control, world position and so on): see Locomotion control,
  • robot effector in the Cartesian space (inverse kinematics, whole body constraints): see Cartesian control.


The ALMotion module implements also some “reflexes” such as Self-collision avoidance, External-collision avoidance, Fall manager, Smart Stiffness and Diagnosis effect.

The reflexes are activated by default and modify the behavior of your robot.
More specifically, they:

Advanced users may need to deactivate all or part of the reflexes. For further details see: Deactivation of safety reflexes.


The module also provides tools to define the robot behavior when no user command is sent. See Idle.


This module gives also access to useful information about the robot hardware, such as the number of joints, their name, limits, the available sensors and so on. See General tools.

How it works

ALMotion runs at 50Hz (cycle of 20ms).

In ALMotion, every time you call a public method to request a motion, a “motion task” is created to handle the job. See Motion task to learn how to manage these tasks.

Performance and Limitations


ALMotion is a core module. As it manages some reflexes and updates the model every cycle, the module consumes a constant CPU. This consumption could increase during special tasks like walk.

Adaptation to pepp Pepper specificities

We have tried hard to maintain a unique Motion API for both NAO and Pepper.

However, some adaptations were necessary:

Group Main adaptations For further details, see ...
Stiffness Manual Stiffness control is forbidden for Pepper‘s lower part. Stiffness control
Locomotion control

Specific stability constraints on the leg.

Locomotion methods are prohibited if power hatch is open.

Locomotion control
Cartesian control Most of the methods are unusable. Cartesian control
Whole Body control Do not use any Whole Body control methods. Whole Body control
Safety reflexes A specific safety reflex is dedicated. Push Recovery
A specific safety reflex is dedicated. Slope compensation
Frontal security distance is correlated with speed. External-collision avoidance
Hardware issues trigger specific rest_reflexes. Diagnosis effect

Getting Started

Essential information to deal with ALMotion:

Axis definition

The X axis is positive toward the robot’s front, the Y from right to left and the Z is vertical.


SI - International System of Unit

The ALMotion module uses the SI - International System of Units (meters, second, radian...).

How to name joints and body parts

Depending on the method chosen, ALMotion requires to name joints, group of joints or a body part.

  called ... are used by ...
Body parts Effectors Cartesian control and Whole Body control
Joint names can be called individually or by groups Chains Stiffness control, Joint control, General tools and Motion task.

For further details, see:

Advanced Users

Deactivation of safety reflexes

Non-critical reflexes deactivation

To deactivate non-critical reflexes, use the relevant setNameOfReflexEnabled method.

The list below specifies whether the reflex deactivation is critical or not:

Method nao NAO pepp Pepper
ALMotionProxy::setCollisionProtectionEnabled OK OK
ALMotionProxy::setDiagnosisEffectEnabled OK OK
ALMotionProxy::setSmartStiffnessEnabled OK OK
ALMotionProxy::setExternalCollisionProtectionEnabled OK Critical, Arms excepted
ALMotionProxy::setFallManagerEnabled Critical Critical
ALMotionProxy::setPushRecoveryEnabled NA Critical

Critical reflexes deactivation

Deactivation of very critical reflexes is not allowed under normal use.

nao NAO only

To deactivate critical reflexes on NAO, use the relevant setNameOfReflexEnabled method.

This will be effective only if the robot owner has allowed it.

For further details about owner consent, see: Consent for the deactivation of safety reflexes.