Say goodbye to legged robots and hello to legged robots.
Whereas traditional walking robots can jump and navigate challenging terrain — making them more stable and versatile than robots on wheels — researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering are creating a hybrid robot that is faster and more advanced than its predecessors.
Quan Nguyen, USC Viterbi Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, and Junheng Li, Ph.D. Student and lead author of the project, you have They worked with their research team to make this a reality.
Along with new advances in speed and locomotion, USC Viterbi researchers have designed ways for wheeled-legged robots to reach previously unmarked locations.
“To overcome significant hurdles, we proposed a posture improvement framework to allow our wheel-legged robot to adapt to optimal poses,” Lee said. “This movement cannot be achieved by the movements of the robot with wheels only or the movements of the robot with legs only.”
The need for highly efficient and agile robots is rapidly growing around the world, making them useful in a number of different tasks Such as conducting search and rescue operations after an earthquake, or exploring caves that are too small or unstable for people to enter.
“Our robot usage can cover many industries,” he told me. “Including response missions where the work environment is dangerous to humans, industrial inspection where inspections can be automated and logistics where wheeled-legged robots can assist human workers in carrying and processing packages.”
Li and his research team took the existing hardware platform, and modified it by adding wheel joints to create a new wheeled robot. Thanks to a newly designed balance control strategy and posture optimization framework, it is now possible for these robots to traverse higher obstacles such as stairs, for example.
“We demonstrated the ability of a robot that rolls on very high ramps by optimizing posture and balance control,” Lee told me. “The robot can roll a vertical stair 0.36 meters while maintaining traction and balance, and it can also roll multiple times in succession ramps with the same strategy. control “.
The robots can also participate in many other dynamic movements such as back hops, hops, and barrel rolls.
“For the wheel-legged robot, we are particularly focused on rough terrain movement through control system design, optimization, and planning,” Lee said. “By incorporating wheels, a wheel-legged robot can take advantage of rolling motion and jump farther than a traditional four-legged robot,” Lee explained.
In addition to being able to jump more, the research team is also looking at a new design for the robot.
This new setup is closer to performing human functions, with the robot standing on only two legs, performing wheel-and-legged locomotion strategies, while also moving its arms.
Navigating challenging terrain, whether it’s to overcome high obstacles, roll over, or jump, makes these wheeled-legged robots even more valuable as a resource for doing jobs extremely dangerous to humans.
With these new technological advances, wheeled legged robots are on the way to making the world safer and more efficient.
Lee and his research team have been working on this project for more than a year now, and they hope to finish the program that includes stable new control features in the near future to allow legged robots to be used in various industries.
Professor Nguyen Lee presented the results of their recent research in IROS 2022 . Conference In Kyoto, Japan this month.
Posted on November 7, 2022
Last updated on November 7, 2022
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