The Bow Leg Hopping Robot

Garth Zeglin
doctoral dissertation, tech. report CMU-RI-TR-99-33, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, October, 1999


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Abstract
The Bow Leg Hopper is a new type of running robot with an efficienl, flexible leg. A one-leffed planar prototype has been developed that passively srabilizes body attitude and is efficient enough to use on-board batteries. It is controlled by a real-time planner and has demonstrated crossing of simple artificial terrain including stepping stones and shallow stain.

The machine hops using a Bow Leg. a new type of resilient. flexible leg named for its similarity to an archery bow. The Bow Leg comprises a curved leaf spring, foot, freely pivoting hip, and the Bow String that holds the leg in compression. The Bow String is used to control the leg potential energy: it may be retracted to store energy by bending the leg, held in place. and released to perform useful work. The leg is positioned using a hobby servomotor coupled to the foot with control strings. During locomotion, the machine is controlled by actualion during flight: the leg is positioned, and the Bow String retracted to store energy that is automatically released during stance. During ground contact all the strings become slack. and the hopper bounces passively off the ground with no forces or torques supported by actuators The hip joint is attached to the body slightly above the center of mass so the body effectively hangs from the hip during ground contact and the natural pendulum forces passively stabilize body attitude.

In this design a single spring provides the leg structure. elasticity, and energy storage. The high forces of ground impact are carried conservatively by the spring and hip bearing. This addresses four problems central to dynamic legged locomotion: a low-power actuator may be used for thrust by storing energy in the leg: low-force actuation may be used to position the leg; the free hip minimizes body disturbance torques; and the hopping cycle is energy efficient since negative work is eliminated and the spring has high restitution. The machine is a form of "progranimable mechanism" configured by leg position and stored energy during Right to control the evolution of the bounce dynamics.

The physics of the machine have been modelled in closed form using a combination of idealized analysis and empirically determined functions. These models are used by a planner that tinds sequences of foot placements across known terrain to a goal position by searching a graph representing the trajectories reachable from any given landing. The planner uses heurisrics to discretize the continuous control space and estimate path costs. Paths are generated in real time as needed in conjunction with a reedback controller that rejects local disturbances. The dissertation also includes graphical methods for terrain analysis, discussion of mechanical design details, details of the real-time graph-search planner and heuristics, and experimental data from the planar prototype.


Notes
Associated Project(s): Bow Leg Hopper

Text Reference
Garth Zeglin, "The Bow Leg Hopping Robot," doctoral dissertation, tech. report CMU-RI-TR-99-33, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, October, 1999

BibTeX Reference
@phdthesis{Zeglin_1999_3268,
   author = "Garth Zeglin",
   title = "The Bow Leg Hopping Robot",
   booktitle = "",
   school = "Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University",
   month = "October",
   year = "1999",
   number= "CMU-RI-TR-99-33",
   address= "Pittsburgh, PA",
}