Categories
Articles

Simulated pronking robots move like springboks

If you’ve never seen a video of springboks gracefully pronking, have a look below. Pronking is a gait where all legs are used in synchrony, usually resulting in relatively slow speeds but long flight phases and large jumping heights. Such jumps might be interesting for robots to move around in cluttered environments. The risk is […]

If you’ve never seen a video of springboks gracefully pronking, have a look below.



Pronking is a gait where all legs are used in synchrony, usually resulting in relatively slow speeds but long flight phases and large jumping heights. Such jumps might be interesting for robots to move around in cluttered environments. The risk is that the robot falls forward or backward if not controlled correctly (pitch control).

For this purpose, Ankaralı et al. propose a special type of feedback controller that has two levels. The top-level takes as an input the desired speed and jump height of the robot. This information is given to a “template” of the robot motion based on the “Spring-Loaded Inverted Pendulum”. A low-level controller then attempts to force the dynamics of the robot to mimic the template as closely as possible.



Experiments were done in simulation on a realistic model of the RHex six-legged robot (see video above). Results show that the user can easily control jump height and forward speed and that the gait is robust to sensor and actuator noise.

By Sabine Hauert

Sabine Hauert is Assistant Professor in Robotics at the University of Bristol in the UK. Her research focusses in designing swarms that work in large numbers (>1000), and at small scales (<1 cm). Profoundly cross-disciplinary, Sabine works between Engineering Mathematics, the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, and Life Sciences. Before joining the University of Bristol, Sabine engineered swarms of nanoparticles for cancer treatment at MIT, and deployed swarms of flying robots at EPFL.

Sabine is also President and Co-founder of Robohub.org, a non-profit dedicated to connecting the robotics community to the world.

As an expert in science communication with 10 years of experience, Sabine is often invited to discuss the future of robotics and AI, including in the journals Nature and Science, at the European Parliament, and at the Royal Society. Her work has been featured in mainstream media including BBC, CNN, The Guardian, The Economist, TEDx, WIRED, and New Scientist.