On designing an active tail for legged robots: simplifying control via decoupling of control objectives

Steve W. Heim (Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland)
Mostafa Ajallooeian (Biorobotics Laboratory (BIOROB), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Peter Eckert (Biorobotics Laboratory (BIOROB), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Massimo Vespignani (Biorobotics Laboratory (BIOROB), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Auke Jan Ijspeert (Biorobotics Laboratory (BIOROB), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland)

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Publication date: 16 May 2016

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the possible roles of active tails for steady-state legged locomotion, focusing on a design principle which simplifies control by decoupling different control objectives.

Design/methodology/approach

A series of simple models are proposed which capture the dynamics of an idealized running system with an active tail. These models suggest that the overall control problem can be simplified and effectively decoupled via a proper tail design. This design principle is further explored in simulation using trajectory optimization. The results are then validated in hardware using a one degree-of-freedom active tail mounted on the quadruped robot Cheetah-Cub.

Findings

The results of this paper show that an active tail can greatly improve both forward velocity and reduce body-pitch per stride while adding minimal complexity. Further, the results validate the design principle of using long, light tails compared to shorter heavier ones.

Originality/value

This paper builds on previous results, with a new focus on steady-state locomotion and in particular deals directly with stance phase dynamics. A novel design principle for tails is proposed and validated.

Keywords

Citation

Heim, S., Ajallooeian, M., Eckert, P., Vespignani, M. and Ijspeert, A. (2016), "On designing an active tail for legged robots: simplifying control via decoupling of control objectives", Industrial Robot, Vol. 43 No. 3, pp. 338-346. https://doi.org/10.1108/IR-10-2015-0190

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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