Design Principles for Energy-Efficient Legged Locomotion and Implementation on the MIT Cheetah Robot

TitleDesign Principles for Energy-Efficient Legged Locomotion and Implementation on the MIT Cheetah Robot
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsSeok, S., A. Wang, M.Y. Chuah, D.J. Hyun, J. Lee, D.M. Otten, J.H. Lang, and S. Kim
JournalIEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics
Pagination1117 - 1129
KeywordsActuators, Cost of transport (CoT), efficiency, energy regeneration, Gears, Heating, legged locomotion, Propagation losses, quadrupeds robot, Torque

This paper presents the design principles for highly efficient legged robots, the implementation of the principles in the design of the MIT Cheetah, and the analysis of the high-speed trotting experimental results. The design principles were derived by analyzing three major energy-loss mechanisms in locomotion: heat losses from the actuators, friction losses in transmission, and the interaction losses caused by the interface between the system and the environment. Four design principles that minimize these losses are discussed: employment of high torque-density motors, energy regenerative electronic system, low loss transmission, and a low leg inertia. These principles were implemented in the design of the MIT Cheetah; the major design features are large gap diameter motors, regenerative electric motor drivers, single-stage low gear transmission, dual coaxial motors with composite legs, and the differential actuated spine. The experimental results of fast trotting are presented; the 33-kg robot runs at 22 km/h (6 m/s). The total power consumption from the battery pack was 973 W and resulted in a total cost of transport of 0.5, which rivals running animals' at the same scale. 76% of the total energy consumption is attributed to heat loss from the motor, and the remaining 24% is used in mechanical work, which is dissipated as interaction loss as well as friction losses at the joint and transmission.