Development of a Hybrid Powered 2D Biped Walking Machine Designed for Rough Terrain Locomotion
Baker, Bryce C.
University of Kansas
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Biped robots hold promise as terrestrial explorers because they require a single discrete foothold to place their next step. However, biped robots are multi-input multi-output dynamically unstable machines. This makes walking on rough terrain difficult at best. Progress has been made with non-periodic rough terrain like stairs or inclines with fully active walking machines. Terrain that requires the walker to change its gait pattern from a standard walk is still problematic. Most walking machines have difficulty detecting or responding to the small perturbations induced by this type of terrain. These small perturbations can lead to unstable gait cycles and possibly a fall. The Intelligent Systems and Automation Lab at the University of Kansas has built a three legged 2D biped walking machine to be used as a test stand for studying rough terrain walking. The specific aim of this research is to investigate how biped walkers can best maintain walking stability when acted upon by small perturbations caused by periodic rough terrain. The first walking machine prototype, referred to as Jaywalker has two main custom actuation systems. The first is the hip ratchet system. It allows the walker to have either a passive or active hip swing. The second is the hybrid parallel ankle actuator. This new actuator uses a pneumatic ram and stepper motor in parallel to produce an easily controlled high torque output. In open loop control it has less than a 1° tracking error and 0.065 RPM velocity error compared to a standard stepper motor. Step testing was conducted using the Jaywalker, with a passive hip, to determine if a walker with significant leg mass could walk without full body actuation. The results of testing show the Jaywalker is ultimately not capable of walking with a passive hip. However, the walking motion is fine until the terminal stance phase. At this point the legs fall quickly towards the ground as the knee extends the shank. This quick step phenomenon is caused by increased speeds and forces about the leg and hip caused by the extension of the shank. This issue can be overcome by fully actuating the hip, or by adding counterbalances to the legs about the hip.
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