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Control Implementation of Dynamic Locomotion on Compliant, Underactuated, Force-Controlled Legged Robots with Non-Anthropomorphic Design


The control of locomotion on legged robots traditionally involves a robot that takes a standard legged form, such as the anthropomorphic humanoid, the dog-like quadruped, or the bird-like biped. Additionally, these systems will often be actuated with position-controlled servos or series-elastic actuators that are connected through rigid links. This work investigates the control implementation of dynamic, force-controlled locomotion on a family of legged systems that significantly deviate from these classic paradigms by incorporating modern, state-of-the-art proprioceptive actuators on uniquely configured compliant legs that do not closely resemble those found in nature. The results of this work can be used to better inform how to implement controllers on legged systems without stiff, position-controlled actuators, and also provide insight on how intelligently designed mechanical features can potentially simplify the control of complex, nonlinear dynamical systems like legged robots. To this end, this work presents the approach to control for a family of non-anthropomorphic bipedal robotic systems which are developed both in simulation and with physical hardware. The first is the Non-Anthropomorphic Biped, Version 1 (NABi-1) that features position-controlled joints along with a compliant foot element on a minimally actuated leg, and is controlled using simple open-loop trajectories based on the Zero Moment Point. The second system is the second version of the non-anthropomorphic biped (NABi-2) which utilizes the proprioceptive Back-drivable Electromagnetic Actuator for Robotics (BEAR) modules for actuation and fully realizes feedback-based force controlled locomotion. These systems are used to highlight both the strengths and weaknesses of utilizing proprioceptive actuation in systems, and suggest the tradeoffs that are made when using force control for dynamic locomotion. These systems also present case studies for different approaches to system design when it comes to bipedal legged robots.

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