The availability and capabilities of present-day technology suggest that legged robots should be able to physically outperform their biological counterparts. This thesis revolves around the philosophy that the observed opposite is caused by over-complexity in legged robot design, which is believed to substantially suppress design for high-performance. In this dissertation a design philosophy is elaborated with a focus on simple but high performance design. This philosophy is governed by various key points, including holistic design, technology-inspired design, machine and behaviour co-design and design at the performance envelope. This design philosophy also focuses on improving progress in robot design, which is inevitably complicated by the aspire for high performance. It includes an approach of iterative design by trial-and-error, which is believed to accelerate robot design through experience. This thesis mainly focuses on the case study of Skippy, a fully autonomous monopedal balancing and hopping robot. Skippy is maximally simple in having only two actuators, which is the minimum number of actuators required to control a robot in 3D. Despite its simplicity, it is challenged with a versatile set of high-performance activities, ranging from balancing to reaching record jump heights, to surviving crashes from several meters and getting up unaided after a crash, while being built from off-the-shelf technology. This thesis has contributed to the detailed mechanical design of Skippy and its optimisations that abide the design philosophy, and has resulted in a robust and realistic design that is able to reach a record jump height of 3.8m. Skippy is also an example of iterative design through trial-and-error, which has lead to the successful design and creation of the balancing-only precursor Tippy. High-performance balancing has been successfully demonstrated on Tippy, using a recently developed balancing algorithm that combines the objective of tracking a desired position command with balancing, as required for preparing hopping motions. This thesis has furthermore contributed to several ideas and theories on Skippy's road of completion, which are also useful for designing other high-performance robots. These contributions include (1) the introduction of an actuator design criterion to maximize the physical balance recovery of a simple balancing machine, (2) a generalization of the centre of percussion for placement of components that are sensitive to shock and (3) algebraic modelling of a non-linear high-gravimetric energy density compression spring with a regressive stress-strain profile. The activities performed and the results achieved have been proven to be valuable, however they have also delayed the actual creation of Skippy itself. A possible explanation for this happening is that Skippy's requirements and objectives were too ambitious, for which many complications were encountered in the decision-making progress of the iterative design strategy, involving trade-offs between exercising trial-and-error, elaborate simulation studies and the development of above-mentioned new theories. Nevertheless, from (1) the resulting realistic design of Skippy, (2) the successful creation and demonstrations of Tippy and (3) the contributed theories for high-performance robot design, it can be concluded that the adopted design philosophy has been generally successful. Through the case study design project of the hopping and balancing robot Skippy, it is shown that proper design for high physical performance (1) can indeed lead to a robot design that is capable of physically outperforming humans and animals and (2) is already very challenging for a robot that is intended to be very simple.
|Titolo della tesi:||Design of high-performance legged robots: A case study on a hopping and balancing robot|
|Data di discussione:||11-lug-2019|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Tesi di dottorato|