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Volume 27 Issue 10 - Publication Date: 1 October 2008
 
Thrust Control, Stabilization and Energetics of a Quadruped Running Robot
 
Joaquin Estremera Industrial Automation Institute CS, Kenneth J Waldron Stanford University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Palo Alto, CA, USA.
 
In order to achieve powered autonomous running robots it is essential to develop efficient actuator systems, especially for generating the radial thrust in the legs. In addition, the control of the radial thrust of the legs can be a simple, effective method for stabilizing the body pitch in a running gait. This paper presents the mechanical systems, models and control strategies employed to generate and control leg thrust in the KOLT quadruped running robot. An analytical model of the electro-pneumatic leg thrusting system is presented and analyzed to evaluate its performance and to facilitate the design of control strategies. Several experiments have been conducted to estimate the energy losses and determine their origins as well as to compute the energetic efficiency of the actuation system. Two thrust control methods are also proposed and tested experimentally. The closed loop method regulates thrust through the control of the hip liftoff speed, a conceptually simple control strategy that stabilizes the body pitch in pronk and trot gaits without the need for central feedback, even on irregular terrain. The open-loop control method regulates the energy added in each hop based on the model of the actuator system. The efficacy of these models and techniques is tested in several planar trot and pronk experiments, and the results are analyzed focusing on the body stabilization, the power consumption and the energetic efficiency.
 
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