Control of underactuated planar hexapedal pronking through a dynamically embedded SLIP monopod
Pronking (aka. stotting) is a gait in which all legs are used in synchrony, resulting in long flight phases and large jumping heights that may potentially be useful for mobile robots on rough terrain. Robotic instantiations of this gait suffer from severe pitch instability either due to underactuation, or the lack of sufficient feedback. Nevertheless, the dynamic nature of this gait suggests that the Spring-Loaded Inverted Pendulum Model (SLIP), a very successful predictive model for both natural and robotic runners, would be a good basis for more robust and maneuverable robotic pronking. In this paper, we describe how "template-based control", a controller structure based on the embedding of a simple dynamical "template" within a more complex "anchor" system, can be used to achieve stable and controllable pronking for a planar, underactuated hexapod model. In this context, high-level control of the gait is regulated through speed and height commands to the SLIP template, while the embedding controller based on approximate inverse-dynamics and carefully designed passive dynamics ensures the stability of the remaining degrees of freedom. We show through extensive simulation experiments that unlike existing open-loop alternatives, the resulting control structure provides stability, explicit maneuverability and significant robustness against sensor and actuator noise. ©2010 IEEE.