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This paper presents an approach for the closed-loop control of a fully actuated biped robot that leverages its natural dynamics when walking. Rather than prescribing kinematic trajectories, the approach proposes a set of state-dependent torques, each of which can be constructed from a combination of low-gain spring-damper couples. Accordingly, the limb motion is determined by interaction of the passive control elements and the natural dynamics of the biped, rather than being dictated by a reference trajectory. In order to implement the proposed approach, the authors develop a model-based transformation from the control torques that are defined in a mixed reference frame to the actuator joint torques. The proposed approach is implemented in simulation on an anthropomorphic biped. The simulated biped is shown to converge to a stable, natural-looking walk from a variety of initial configurations. Based on these simulations, the mechanical cost of transport is computed and shown to be significantly lower than that of trajectory-tracking approaches to biped control, thus validating the ability of the proposed idea to provide efficient dynamic walking. Simulations further demonstrate walking at varying speeds and on varying ground slopes. Finally, controller robustness is demonstrated with respect to forward and backward push-type disturbances and with respect to uncertainty in model parameters.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2009