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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.more » « less
Whole-body control (WBC) is a generic task-oriented control method for feedback control of loco-manipulation behaviors in humanoid robots. The combination of WBC and model-based walking controllers has been widely utilized in various humanoid robots. However, to date, the WBC method has not been employed for unsupported passive-ankle dynamic locomotion. As such, in this article, we devise a new WBC, dubbed the whole-body locomotion controller (WBLC), that can achieve experimental dynamic walking on unsupported passive-ankle biped robots. A key aspect of WBLC is the relaxation of contact constraints such that the control commands produce reduced jerk when switching foot contacts. To achieve robust dynamic locomotion, we conduct an in-depth analysis of uncertainty for our dynamic walking algorithm called the time-to-velocity-reversal (TVR) planner. The uncertainty study is fundamental as it allows us to improve the control algorithms and mechanical structure of our robot to fulfill the tolerated uncertainty. In addition, we conduct extensive experimentation for: (1) unsupported dynamic balancing (i.e., in-place stepping) with a six-degree-of-freedom biped, Mercury; (2) unsupported directional walking with Mercury; (3) walking over an irregular and slippery terrain with Mercury; and 4) in-place walking with our newly designed ten-DoF viscoelastic liquid-cooled biped, DRACO. Overall, the main contributions of this work are on: (a) achieving various modalities of unsupported dynamic locomotion of passive-ankle bipeds using a WBLC controller and a TVR planner; (b) conducting an uncertainty analysis to improve the mechanical structure and the controllers of Mercury; and (c) devising a whole-body control strategy that reduces movement jerk during walking.more » « less
We present a method that finds locomanipulation plans that perform simultaneous locomotion and manipulation of objects for a desired end-effector trajectory. Key to our approach is to consider an injective locomotion constraint manifold that defines the locomotion scheme of the robot and then using this constraint manifold to search for admissible manipulation trajectories. The problem is formulated as a weighted-A* graph search whose planner output is a sequence of contact transitions and a path progression trajectory to construct the whole-body kinodynamic locomanipulation plan. We also provide a method for computing, visualizing, and learning the locomanipulability region, which is used to efficiently evaluate the edge transition feasibility during the graph search. Numerical simulations are performed with the NASA Valkyrie robot platform that utilizes a dynamic locomotion approach, called the divergent-component-of-motion (DCM), on two example locomanipulation scenarios.more » « less