CARL – A Compliant Robotic Leg Designed for Human-Like Bipedal Locomotion

  • Although today’s bipeds are capable of demonstrating impressive locomotion skills, in many aspects, there’s still a big gap compared to the capabilities observed in humans. Partially, this is due to the deployed control paradigms that are mostly based on analytical approaches. The analytical nature of those approaches entails strong model dependencies – regarding the robotic platform as well as the environment – which makes them prone to unknown disturbances. Recently, an increasing number of biologically-inspired control approaches have been presented from which a human-like bipedal gait emerges. Although the control structures only rely on proprioceptive sensory information, the smoothness of the motions and the robustness against external disturbances is impressive. Due to the lack of suitable robotic platforms, until today the controllers have been mostly applied to simulations. Therefore, as the first step towards a suitable platform, this thesis presents the Compliant Robotic Leg (CARL) that features mono- as well as biarticular actuation. The design is driven by a set of core-requirements that is primarily derived from the biologically-inspired behavior-based bipedal locomotion control (B4LC) and complemented by further functional aspects from biomechanical research. Throughout the design process, CARL is understood as a unified dynamic system that emerges from the interplay of the mechanics, the electronics, and the control. Thus, having an explicit control approach and the respective gait in mind, the influence of each subsystem on the characteristics of the overall system is considered carefully. The result is a planar robotic leg whose three joints are driven by five highly integrated linear SEAs– three mono- and two biarticular actuators – with minimized reflected inertia. The SEAs are encapsulated by FPGA-based embedded nodes that are designed to meet the hard application requirements while enabling the deployment of a full-featured robotic framework. CARL’s foot is implemented using a COTS prosthetic foot; the sensor information is obtained from the deformation of its main structure. Both subsystems are integrated into a leg structure that matches the proportions of a human with a size of 1.7 m. The functionality of the subsystems, as well as the overall system, is validated experimentally. In particular, the final experiment demonstrates a coordinated walking motion and thereby confirms that CARL can produce the desired behavior – a natural looking, human-like gait is emerging from the interplay of the behavior-based walking control and the mechatronic system. CARL is robust regarding impacts, the redundant actuation system can render the desired joint torques/impedances, and the foot system supports the walking structurally while it provides the necessary sensory information. Considering that there is no movement of the upper trunk, the angle and torque profiles are comparable to the ones found in humans.

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Author:Steffen SchützORCiD
Advisor:Karsten Berns
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Language of publication:English
Date of Publication (online):2020/05/23
Year of first Publication:2020
Publishing Institution:Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Granting Institution:Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Acceptance Date of the Thesis:2019/07/17
Date of the Publication (Server):2020/05/25
GND Keyword:Robotics; Bipedal Locomotion; Bio-inspired
Page Number:X, 300
Faculties / Organisational entities:Kaiserslautern - Fachbereich Informatik
CCS-Classification (computer science):A. General Literature
DDC-Cassification:0 Allgemeines, Informatik, Informationswissenschaft / 004 Informatik
Licence (German):Creative Commons 4.0 - Namensnennung, nicht kommerziell, keine Bearbeitung (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)