Design and Implementation of a Scalable Real-Time Motor Controller Architecture for Humanoid Robots and Exoskeletons

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Virginia Tech

Embedded systems for humanoid robots are required to be reliable, low in cost, scalable and robust. Most of the applications related to humanoid robots require efficient force control of Series Elastic Actuators (SEA). These control loops often introduce precise timing requirements due to the safety critical nature of the underlying hardware. Also the motor controller needs to run fast and interface with several sensors. The commercially available motor controllers generally do not satisfy all the requirements of speed, reliability, ease of use and small size. This work presents a custom motor controller, which can be used for real time force control of SEA on humanoid robots and exoskeletons. Emphasis has been laid on designing a system which is scalable, easy to use and robust. The hardware and software architecture for control has been presented along with the results obtained on a novel Series Elastic Actuator based humanoid robot THOR.

Embedded Systems, RTOS, Series Elastic Actuator, Exoskeleton, Humanoid Robot