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  1. This paper proposes an online gain adaptation approach to enhance the robustness of whole-body control (WBC) framework for legged robots under unknown external force disturbances. Without properly accounting for external forces, the closed-loop control system incorporating WBC may become unstable, and therefore the desired task goals may not be achievable. To study the effects of external disturbances, we analyze the behavior of our current WBC framework via the use of both full-body and centroidal dynamics. In turn, we propose a way to adapt feedback gains for stabilizing the controlled system automatically. Based on model approximations and stability theory, we propose three conditions to ensure that the adjusted gains are suitable for stabilizing a robot under WBC. The proposed approach has four contributions. We make it possible to estimate the unknown disturbances without force/torque sensors. We then compute adaptive gains based on theoretic stability analysis incorporating the unknown forces at the joint actuation level. We demonstrate that the proposed method reduces task tracking errors under the effect of external forces on the robot. In addition, the proposed method is easy-to-use without further modifications of the controllers and task specifications. The resulting gain adaptation process is able to run in real-time. Finally, we verify the effectiveness of our method both in simulations and experiments using the bipedal robot Draco2 and the humanoid robot Valkyrie . 
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  2. We propose a locomotion framework for bipedal robots consisting of a new motion planning method, dubbed trajectory optimization for walking robots plus (TOWR+), and a new whole-body control method, dubbed implicit hierarchical whole-body controller (IHWBC). For versatility, we consider the use of a composite rigid body (CRB) model to optimize the robot’s walking behavior. The proposed CRB model considers the floating base dynamics while accounting for the effects of the heavy distal mass of humanoids using a pre-trained centroidal inertia network. TOWR+ leverages the phase-based parameterization of its precursor, TOWR, and optimizes for base and end-effectors motions, feet contact wrenches, as well as contact timing and locations without the need to solve a complementary problem or integer program. The use of IHWBC enforces unilateral contact constraints (i.e., non-slip and non-penetration constraints) and a task hierarchy through the cost function, relaxing contact constraints and providing an implicit hierarchy between tasks. This controller provides additional flexibility and smooth task and contact transitions as applied to our 10 degree-of-freedom, line-feet biped robot DRACO. In addition, we introduce a new open-source and light-weight software architecture, dubbed planning and control (PnC), that implements and combines TOWR+ and IHWBC. PnC provides modularity, versatility, and scalability so that the provided modules can be interchanged with other motion planners and whole-body controllers and tested in an end-to-end manner. In the experimental section, we first analyze the performance of TOWR+ using various bipeds. We then demonstrate balancing behaviors on the DRACO hardware using the proposed IHWBC method. Finally, we integrate TOWR+ and IHWBC and demonstrate step-and-stop behaviors on the DRACO hardware. 
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  3. null (Ed.)