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Title: Real‐Time Remodeling of Granular Terrain for Robot Locomotion
Terrain irregularities in natural environments present mobility challenges for autonomous robots and vehicles. Loosely consolidated sandy slopes flow unpredictably when perturbed, often leading to locomotion failure. Systematic experiments with various robot morphologies on flowable terrains feature open‐loop quasistatic gait strategies that remodel the terrain to aid locomotor kinematics. On a sloped terrain of granular media near the critical angle, a laboratory‐scale rover robot induces a flow via a localized fluidization gait to remodel local terrain and succeed in locomotion. A Bayesian optimization machine learning approach that modulates this gait strategy then finds a pattern of selectively fluidizing and solidifying terrain to climb slopes rapidly. In a biped walker robot, a cleated foot design dynamically manipulates the stress fields of flowable slopes. The deeply submerged cleats remodel the shear response of the material by creating jammed regions behind them which then improve forward progression by reducing slip when compared to a flat foot. The “robophysics” approach of systematic experiments exploring terrain reconfiguration combined with future machine learning models of flowable terrain evolution can augment gait discovery for future robots.  more » « less
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Advanced Intelligent Systems
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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