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Multilegged Robots: Towards Robust Real-World Deployments

Posted by: kot01b

September 15, 2017

Website for proposed ICRA2018 Full-day Workshop titled Multi-legged robots: Towards robust real-world deployments

Multilegged robots have unique potential advantages over wheeled and tracked systems in regard to traversal of rough and unstructured terrain, and this has led to a growing interest and body of research in legged systems. However, there are very few actual real-world deployments of multilegged robots, and so far there has been no significant uptake of legged robots in domains such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, environmental monitoring and others. This workshop will explore the “missing ingredients” that are holding back widespread real-world deployment of multilegged robots, and will feature both distinguished invited speakers and solicited papers.

Few examples of multilegged robots [clockwise from top left]: ANYmal (ANYbotics/ETHZ), MIT Cheetah (MIT), MAX (CSIRO), Lauron V (FZI-KIT), Crabster CR200 (KRISO), Spot (Boston Dynamics/Softbank), Robosimian (NASA-JPL).

Introduction

Legged robots have many unique advantages over wheeled and tracked systems in terms of gaining access to and maintaining locomotion efficiency on rough and unstructured terrain. This makes them ideally suited for applications such as disaster response, remote inspection and exploration in many different environments.

Within the field of legged robotics, multilegged robots are understood as having four or more legs, in contrast to bipedal or humanoid robots. In recent years, bipedal or humanoid robots have been tested in environments designed for humans and using human tools and machinery and there is significant research going on in human-sized and shaped robots; however, their morphologies also impose substantial challenges in regard to dynamic control of bipedal walking, system stability, ability to recover from actuator failures, and others. In contrast, multilegged robots designs are typically inspired by quadruped mammals and hexapedal or octopedal arthropods. These robots significant advantages over bipedal systems in regard to dynamics, stability, and ability to negotiate challenging terrain.

However, there are very few actual real-world deployments of multilegged robots, and so far there has been no significant uptake of legged robots in domains such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, environmental monitoring and others.

Scientific goals

Legged robots have long been proposed as the solution for traversing complex environments and difficult terrain. However, in spite of significant advances in recent years, current systems are generally far from adequate for actual field deployments. Smaller legged robots are severely limited in payload and effective range; larger outdoor legged robots are often too inefficient and slow for field use, and unable to navigate really challenging terrain.

Despite growing research interest in legged locomotion, a number of “missing ingredients” hold legged robots back from wide-spread real-world deployment.
Some of the issues faced by researchers include the performance limitations of current legged robots (when compared to biological systems), the inherent lower efficiency of legged versus wheeled locomotion, design constraints related to available materials and actuators, and substantial power requirements; there are, however, many other challenges to be addressed.

This workshop’s goal is to identify the fundamental research challenges whose solution is required to bring legged robots to real-world applications. We will explore challenges and potential solutions in the areas of multilegged robot design, control, planning, perception, and systems integration.

To this end, the workshop will bring together experts and budding researchers in the field to identify the key challenges and solution in these areas, facilitating the development of field-deployable multilegged systems in the future.

Some of the specific questions we will address in this workshop include:

  • What are optimal multilegged robot designs for complex industrial environments or challenging outdoor terrain?
  • What are appropriate motion planning algorithms for high DOF robots in complex, 3D environments?
  • How should power requirements be brought into the motion planning process?
  • How can robust state estimation be done in robots with complex designs and many DOFs?
  • What is the minimum control performance that still allows the robot to accomplish its goal?
  • What are the cost drivers for multilegged robots, and how can they be reduced without negatively impacting control performance and reliability?
  • Are there regulatory constraints that slow down the widespread application of multilegged robots?

 

Please contact Navinda Kottege for more information.