Snake robotics is an important research topic with a wide range of applications, including inspection in confined spaces, search-and-rescue, and disaster response. Snake robots are well-suited to these applications because of their versatility and adaptability to unstructured and constrained environments. In this paper, we introduce a soft pneumatic robotic snake that can imitate the capabilities of biological snakes, its soft body can provide flexibility and adaptability to the environment. This paper combines soft mobile robot modeling, proprioceptive feedback control, and motion planning to pave the way for functional soft robotic snake autonomy. We propose a pressure-operated soft robotic snake with a high degree of modularity that makes use of customized embedded flexible curvature sensing. On this platform, we introduce the use of iterative learning control using feedback from the on-board curvature sensors to enable the snake to automatically correct its gait for superior locomotion. We also present a motion planning and trajectory tracking algorithm using an adaptive bounding box, which allows for efficient motion planning that still takes into account the kinematic state of the soft robotic snake. We test this algorithm experimentally, and demonstrate its performance in obstacle avoidance scenarios.
Learning to Locomote with Artificial Neural-Network and CPG-based Control in a Soft Snake Robot
In this paper, we present a new locomotion control method for soft robot snakes. Inspired by biological snakes, our control architecture is composed of two key modules: A reinforcement learning (RL) module for achieving adaptive goal-tracking behaviors with changing goals, and a central pattern generator (CPG) system with Matsuoka oscillators for generating stable and diverse locomotion patterns. The two modules are interconnected into a closed-loop system: The RL module, analogizing the locomotion region located in the midbrain of vertebrate animals, regulates the input to the CPG system given state feedback from the robot. The output of the CPG system is then translated into pressure inputs to the pneumatic actuators of the soft snake robot. Based on the fact that the oscillation frequency and wave amplitude of the Matsuoka oscillator can be independently controlled under different time scales, we further adapt the option-critic framework to improve the learning performance measured by optimality and data efficiency. The performance of the proposed controller is experimentally validated with both simulated and real soft snake robots.
- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- 2020 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS)
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- 7758 to 7765
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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