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Research Papers

Controller Design, Analysis, and Experimental Validation of a Robotic Serpentine Tail to Maneuver and Stabilize a Quadrupedal Robot

[+] Author and Article Information
William S. Rone

United States Air Force,
Eglin AFB, FL 32542
e-mail: wsrone@vt.edu

Wael Saab

SoftWear Automation, Inc.,
Atlanta, GA 30318
e-mail: waelsaab@vt.edu

Anil Kumar

GM Cruise, LLC,
San Francisco, CA 94103
e-mail: anilks@vt.edu

Pinhas Ben-Tzvi

Mem. ASME
Robotics and Mechatronics Laboratory,
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Virginia Tech,
Blacksburg, VA 24061
e-mail: bentzvi@vt.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Dynamic Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF DYNAMIC SYSTEMS, MEASUREMENT,AND CONTROL. Manuscript received November 10, 2017; final manuscript received February 14, 2019; published online March 25, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Chuanfeng Wang.

J. Dyn. Sys., Meas., Control 141(8), 081002 (Mar 25, 2019) (9 pages) Paper No: DS-17-1559; doi: 10.1115/1.4042948 History: Received November 10, 2017; Revised February 14, 2019

This paper analyzes how a multisegment, articulated serpentine tail can enhance the maneuvering and stability of a quadrupedal robot. A persistent challenge in legged robots is the need to account for propulsion, maneuvering, and stabilization considerations when generating control inputs for multidegree-of-freedom spatial legs. Looking to nature, many animals offset some of this required functionality to their tails to reduce the required action by their legs. By including a robotic tail on-board a legged robot, the gravitational and inertial loading of the tail can be utilized to provide for the robot's maneuverability and stability, while the legs primarily provide the robot's propulsion. System designs for the articulated serpentine tail and quadrupedal platform are presented, along with the dynamic models used to represent these systems. Outer-loop controllers that implement the desired maneuvering and stabilizing behaviors are discussed, along with an inner-loop controller that maps the desired tail trajectory into motor torque commands for the tail. Case studies showing the tail's ability to modify yaw-angle heading during locomotion (maneuvering) and to reject a destabilizing external disturbance in the roll direction (stabilization) are considered. Simulation results utilizing the tail's dynamic model and experimental results utilizing the tail prototype, in conjunction with the simulated quadrupedal platform, are generated. Successful maneuvering and stabilization are demonstrated by the simulated results and validated through experimentation.

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References

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Figures

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Fig. 1

RMLeg quadruped with an attached R3RT mechanism

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Fig. 2

R3RT subsystem design

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Fig. 3

Tailed-quadruped control concept

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Fig. 4

Desired trajectories for joint velocity/acceleration product and joint acceleration

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Fig. 5

Stabilization actuation parameter κ definition

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Fig. 6

(a) Side view schematic diagram of the quadruped subsystem and (b) gait diagram

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Fig. 7

Maneuvering case study yaw-angle rotation

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Fig. 8

Maneuvering case study pitch- and roll-angle trajectories

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Fig. 9

Stabilization case study quadruped marginal stability with and without tail control action

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Fig. 10

Stabilization case study ρ and κ trajectories for varying disturbance magnitudes Mδ = Mδ,0 + Mδ,Q + ΔM

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Fig. 11

Stabilization case study pitch and yaw-angle trajectories

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Fig. 12

Tail hardware-in-the-loop experimental setup

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Fig. 13

Maneuvering case study simulated and experimental loading comparison

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Fig. 14

Maneuvering case study simulated and experimental yaw angle trajectories

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Fig. 15

Stabilization case study simulated and experimental loading comparison

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Fig. 16

Stabilization case study simulated and experimental yaw angle trajectories

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