Natural, Efficient Walking for Compliant Humanoid Robots
Griffin, Robert James
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Bipedal robots offer a uniquely flexible platform capable of navigating complex, human-centric environments. This makes them ideally suited for a variety of missions, including disaster response and relief, emergency scenarios, or exoskeleton systems for individuals with disabilities. This, however, requires significant advances in humanoid locomotion and control, as they are still slow, unnatural, inefficient, and relatively unstable. The work of this dissertation the state of the art with the aim was of increasing the robustness and efficiency of these bipedal walking platforms. We present a series of control improvements to enable reliable, robust, natural bipedal locomotion that was validated on a variety of bipedal robots using both hardware and simulation experiments. A huge part of reliable walking involves maximizing the robot's control authority. We first present the development of a model predictive controller to both control the ground reaction forces and perform step adjustment for walking stabilization using a mixed-integer quadratic program. This represents the first model predictive controller to include step rotation in the optimization and leverage the capabilities of the time-varying divergent component of motion for navigating rough terrain. We also analyze the potential capabilities of model predictive controllers for the control of bipedal walking. As an alternative to standard trajectory optimization-based model predictive controls, we present several optimization-based control schemes that leverage more traditional bipedal walking control approaches by embedding a proportional feedback controller into a quadratic program. This controller is capable of combining multiple feedback mechanisms: ground reaction feedback (the "ankle strategy"), angular momentum (the "hip strategy"), swing foot speed up, and step adjustment. This allows the robot to effectively shift its weight, pitch its torso, and adjust its feet to retain balance, while considering environmental constraints, when available. To enable the robot to walk with straightened legs, we present a strategy that insures that the dynamic plans are kinematically and dynamically feasible to execute using straight legs. The effects of timing on dynamic plans are typically ignored, resulting in them potentially requiring significantly bending the legs during execution. This algorithm modifies the step timings to insure the plan can be executed without bending the legs beyond certain angle, while leaving the desired footsteps unmodified. To then achieve walking with straight legs we then presented a novel approach for indirectly controlling the center of mass height through the leg angles. This avoids complicated height planning techniques that are both computationally expensive and often not general enough to consider variable terrain by effectively biasing the solution of the whole-body controller towards using straighter legs. To incorporate the toe-off motion that is essential to both natural and straight leg walking, we also present a strategy for toe-off control that allows it to be an emergent behavior of the whole-body controller. The proposed approach was demonstrated through a series of simulation and experimental results on a variety of platforms. Model predictive control for step adjustment and rough terrain is illustrated in simulation, while the other step adjustment strategies and straight leg walking approaches are presented recovering from external disturbances and walking over a variety of terrains in hardware experiments. We discuss many of the practical considerations and limitations required when porting simulation-based controller development to hardware platforms. Using the presented approaches, we also demonstrated a important concept: using whole-body control frameworks, not every desired motion need be directly commanded. Many of these motions, such as toe-off, may simply be emergent behaviors that result by attempting to satisfy other objectives, such as desired reaction forces. We also showed that optimization is a very powerful tool for walking control, able to determine both stabilizing inputs and joint torques.
- Doctoral Dissertations