Design and Gait Synthesis for a 3D Lower Body Humanoid
Bipedal locomotion is a challenging control engineering problem due to its non-linear dynamics and postural instability of the bipedal form. In addition to these challenges, some dynamical effects such as the ground reaction force are difficult to model accurately in simulation. To this end, it is essential to develop physical hardware to validate walking control strategies and gait generation methods. This thesis develops an on-line walking control strategy for humanoid robots and the electromechanical design of a physical platform for experimental validation.
The first part of the thesis presents the development of a 14 degrees-of-freedom (DOF) lower body humanoid robot. The initial electromechanical design of the proposed system is derived from dynamic modeling of a general multibody system. Kinematic trajectories for the lower body joints are extracted from motion captured human gait data to form the preliminary design specifications. The drivetrain components are selected by analyzing the mechanical power requirements, torque-speed profiles, efficiency and thermal characteristics of actuators. The supporting mechanical chassis and power transmission system are designed to raise the center-of-mass (to reduce the swinging inertia of each leg) while minimizing the overall weight of the system.
Refinements to the design of a complex multibody robotic system like the biped is an iterative process. The mechanical model of the system is transferred from Computer-Aided-Design (CAD) software to a dynamic simulator for analysis and the design is revised to improve performance. This iterative approach is necessary as small changes in the mechanical model can have significant impact on the overall dynamics of the system and the resulting behaviour as well as implications for control design. A streamlined prototyping toolchain is developed in this thesis to extract the relevant kinematic/dynamic parameters of a mechanical system in CAD and automatically generate the equivalent system in a dynamic simulator. This toolchain is used to revise the electromechanical design and generate forward dynamics simulations.
The second portion of this thesis develops a novel walking control strategy for on-line gait synthesis for 3D bipedal robots based on the Foot Placement Estimator (FPE) algorithm. This algorithm is used to determine the desired swing foot position on the ground to restore balance for a 2D bipedal robot. The FPE algorithm is extended to the general 3D case by selecting a suitable plane in the desired direction of motion. Complete gait cycles are formed by combining a finite state machine with the 2D FPE solution along the selected plane. Gait initiation is accomplished by computing state-dependent task space trajectories on-line to produce a forward momentum along the selected plane. A whole-body motion control framework (Jacobian-based prioritized task space control scheme) tracks the task space trajectories and generates the appropriate joint level command for each state. The joint level commands are tracked by local high gain PD controllers. This framework produces the desired whole-body motion during each state while satisfying higher priority constraints. Gait termination is accomplished by