Design of safe control laws for the locomotion of biped robots

Abstract : We want a biped robot to walk safely in a crowd. This involves two aspects: balance and collision avoidance. The first implies avoiding kinematic and dynamical failures of the unstable walking dynamics of the robot; the second refers to avoiding collisions with people. We want to be able to solve both problems not only now but also in the future. We can ensure balance indefinitely by entering in a cyclic walk or by making the robot stop after a couple of steps. Nonetheless, we cannot give a comparable guarantee in collision avoidance for many reasons: impossibility of having absolute knowledge of where people are moving, kinematic/dynamical limitations of the robot, adversarial crowd motion, etc. We address this limitation with a standard strategy for crowd navigation, known as passive safety, that allows us to formulate a unified Model Predictive Control approach for balance and collision avoidance in which we require the robot to stop safely in finite time. In addition, we define a novel safe navigation strategy based on the premise of avoiding collisions for as long as possible that minimizes their occurrence and severity. We propose a lexicographic formulation that produces motions that comply with such premise.We increase the degrees of freedom of the locomotion of a biped robot by allowing the duration and orientation of its steps to vary online. This introduces nonlinearities in the constraints of the optimization problems we solve. We approximate these nonlinear constraints with safe linear constraints so that satisfying the latter implies satisfying the former. We propose a novel method (Safe Sequential Quadratic Programming) that ensures feasible Newton iterates in the solution of nonlinear problems based on this redefinition of constraints.We make a series of simulations of a biped robot walking in a crowd to evaluate the performance of our proposed controllers. We are able to attest the reduction in the number and in the severity of collisions with our proposed navigation strategy in comparison with passive safety, specially when there is uncertainty in the motion of people. We show typical behaviors of the robot that arise when we allow the online variation of the duration and orientation of the steps and how it further improves collision avoidance. We report the computational cost of our proposed numerical method for nonlinear problems in comparison with a standard method. We show that we only need one Newton iteration to arrive to a feasible solution but that the CPU time is dependent on the amount of active set factorizations needed to arrive to the optimal active set.
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Nestor Bohorquez Dorante. Design of safe control laws for the locomotion of biped robots. Automatic. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018GREAT110⟩. ⟨tel-02143977⟩

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