Robot locomotion on hard and soft ground: measuring stability and ground properties in-situ

TitleRobot locomotion on hard and soft ground: measuring stability and ground properties in-situ
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2016
AuthorsBosworth, W., J. Whitney, S. Kim, and N. Hogan
Conference NameICRA (to appear)
Abstract

Dynamic behavior of legged robots is strongly affected by ground impedance. Empirical observation of robot hardware is needed because ground impedance and foot-ground interaction is challenging to predict in simulation. This paper presents experimental data of the MIT Super Mini Cheetah robot hopping on hard and soft ground. We show that controllers tuned for each surface perform better for each specific surface type, assessing performance using measurements of 1.) stability of the robot in response to self-disturbances applied by the robot onto itself and 2.) the peak accelerations of the robot that occur during ground impact, which should be minimized to reduce mechanical stress. To aid in controller selection on different ground types, we show that the robot can measure ground stiffness and friction in-situ by measuring its own interaction with the ground. To motivate future work in variable-terrain control and in-situ ground measurement, we show preliminary results of running gaits that transition between hard and soft ground.