Real-Time Planning and Nonlinear Control for Robust Quadrupedal Locomotion with Tails

dc.contributor.authorFawcett, Randall Tyleren
dc.contributor.committeechairAkbari Hamed, Kavehen
dc.contributor.committeememberL'Afflitto, Andreaen
dc.contributor.committeememberSouthward, Steve C.en
dc.contributor.departmentMechanical Engineeringen
dc.description.abstractThis thesis aims to address the real-time planning and nonlinear control of quadrupedal locomotion such that the resulting gaits are robust to various kinds of disturbances. Specifically, this work addresses two scenarios. Namely, a quasi-static formulation in which an inertial appendage (i.e., a tail) is used to assist the quadruped in negating external push disturbances, and an agile formulation which is derived in a manner such that an appendage could easily be added in future work to examine the affect of tails on agile and high-speed motions. Initially, this work presents a unified method in which bio-inspired articulated serpentine robotic tails may be integrated with walking robots, specifically quadrupeds, in order to produce stable and highly robust locomotion. The design and analysis of a holonomically constrained 2 degree of freedom (DOF) tail is shown and its accompanying nonlinear dynamic model is presented. The model created is used to develop a hierarchical control scheme which consists of a high-level path planner and a full-order nonlinear low-level controller. The high-level controller is based on model predictive control (MPC) and acts on a linear inverted pendulum (LIP) model which has been extended to include the forces produced by the tail by augmenting the LIP model with linearized tail dynamics. The MPC is used to generate center of mass (COM) and tail trajectories and is subject to the net ground reaction forces of the system, tail shape, and torque saturation of the tail in order to ensure overall feasibility of locomotion. At the lower level, a full-order nonlinear controller is implemented to track the generated trajectories using quadratic program (QP) based input-output (I-O) feedback linearization which acts on virtual constraints. The analytical results of the proposed approach are verified numerically through simulations using a full-order nonlinear model for the quadrupedal robot, Vision60, augmented with a tail, totaling at 20 DOF. The simulations include a variety of disturbances to show the robustness of the presented hierarchical control scheme. The aforementioned control scheme is then extended in the latter portion of this thesis to achieve more dynamic, agile, and robust locomotion. In particular, we examine the use of a single rigid body model as the template model for the real-time high-level MPC, which is linearized using variational based linearization (VBL) and is solved at 200 Hz as opposed to an event-based manner. The previously defined virtual constraints controller is also extended so as to include a control Lyapunov function (CLF) which contributes to both numerical stability of the QP and aids in stability of the output dynamics. This new hierarchical scheme is validated on the A1 robot, with a total of 18 DOF, through extensive simulations to display agility and robustness to ground height variations and external disturbances. The low-level controller is then further validated through a series of experiments displaying the ability for this algorithm to be readily transferred to hardware platforms.en
dc.description.abstractgeneralThis thesis aims to address the real-time planning and nonlinear control of four legged walking robots such that the resulting gaits are robust to various kinds of disturbances. Initially, this work presents a method in which a robotic tail can be integrated with legged robots to produce very stable walking patterns. A model is subsequently created to develop a multi-layer control scheme which consists of a high-level path planner, based on a reduced-order model and model predictive control techniques, that determines the trajectory for the quadruped and tail, followed by a low-level controller that considers the full-order dynamics of the robot and tail for robust tracking of the planned trajectory. The reduced-order model considered here enforces quasi-static motions which are slow but generally stable. This formulation is validated numerically through extensive full-order simulations of the Vision60 robot. This work then proceeds to develop an agile formulation using a similar multi-layer structure, but uses a reduced-order model which is more amenable to dynamic walking patterns. The low-level controller is also augmented slightly to provide additional robustness and theoretical guarantees. The latter control algorithm is extensively numerically validated in simulation using the A1 robot to show the large increase in robustness compared to the quasi-static formulation. Finally, this work presents experimental validation of the low-level controller formulated in the latter half of this work.en
dc.description.degreeMaster of Scienceen
dc.publisherVirginia Techen
dc.rightsIn Copyrighten
dc.subjectQuadrupedal Locomotionen
dc.subjectReal-Time Planningen
dc.subjectNonlinear Controlen
dc.subjectOptimal Controlen
dc.titleReal-Time Planning and Nonlinear Control for Robust Quadrupedal Locomotion with Tailsen
dc.typeThesisen Engineeringen Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen of Scienceen


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