Faculty Advisor

Gregory Fischer

Faculty Advisor

Simon W. Evans

Faculty Advisor

John Sullivan

Faculty Advisor

Stephen Nestinger

Faculty Advisor

Eduardo Torres-Jara

Abstract

Legged locomotion provides robots with the capability of adapting to different terrain conditions. General complex terrain traversal methodologies solely rely on proprioception which readily leads to instability under dynamical situations. Biological legged locomotion utilizes somatosensory feedback to sense the real-time interaction of the feet with ground to enhance stability. Nevertheless, limited attention has been given to sensing the feet-terrain interaction in robotics. This project introduces a paradigm shift in robotic walking called sensitive walking realized through the development of a compliant bipedal platform. Sensitive walking extends upon the success of sensitive manipulation which utilizes tactile feedback to localize an object to grasp, determine an appropriate manipulation configuration, and constantly adapts to maintain grasp stability. Based on the same concepts of sensitive manipulation, sensitive walking utilizes podotactile feedback to enhance real-time walking stability by effectively adapting to variations in the terrain. Adapting legged robotic platforms to sensitive walking is not as simple as attaching any tactile sensor to the feet of a robot. The sensors and the limbs need to have specific characteristics that support the implementation of the algorithms and allow the biped to safely come in contact with the terrain and detect the interaction forces. The challenges in handling the synergy of hardware and sensor design, and fabrication in a podotactile-based sensitive walking robot are addressed. The bipedal platform provides contact compliance through 12 series elastic actuators and contains 190 highly flexible tactile sensors capable of sensing forces at any incident angle. Sensitive walking algorithms are provided to handle multi-legged locomotion challenges including stairs and irregular terrain.

Publisher

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name

MS

Department

Mechanical Engineering

Project Type

Thesis

Date Accepted

2012-04-24

Accessibility

Unrestricted

Subjects

tactile feedback, bipedal motion, legged robotics

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