Thesis Defense: Metastable Legged-Robot Locomotion
Speaker: Katie Byl , CSAIL / Mech. Eng.Contact:
Date: August 28 2008
Time: 3:00PM to 4:00PM
Location: 32G-449 (Kiva)
Host: Russ Tedrake, CSAIL
Katie Byl, 617-253-7076, email@example.comRelevant URL: LittleDog at MIT
A variety of impressive approaches to legged locomotion exist; however, the science of legged robotics is still far from demonstrating a solution which performs with a level of flexibility, reliably and careful foot placement that would enable practical locomotion on the variety of types of rough and intermittent terrain humans negotiate with ease on a regular basis. In this thesis, we strive toward this particular goal by developing a methodology for designing control algorithms for moving a legged robot across such terrain in a qualitatively satisfying manner, without falling down very often. We feel the definition of a meaningful metric for legged locomotion is a useful goal in and of itself. Specifically, the mean first-passage time (MFPT), also called the mean time to failure (MTTF), is an intuitively practical cost function to optimize for a legged robot, and we present the reader with a systematic, mathematic process for obtaining estimates of this MFPT metric.
Of particular significance, our models of walking on stochastically rough terrain generally result in dynamics with a fast mixing time, where initial conditions are largely "forgotten" within 1 to 3 steps. Additionally, we can often find a near-optimal solution for motion planning using only a short time-horizon look-ahead. Although we openly recognize that there are important classes of optimization problems for which long-term planning is required to avoid "running into a dead end" (or off of a cliff!), we demonstrate that many classes of rough terrain can in fact be successfully negotiated with a surprisingly high level of long-term reliability by selecting the short-sighted motion with the greatest probability of success. The methods used throughout have direct relevance to machine learning, providing a physics-based approach to reduce state space dimensionality and mathematical tools to obtain a scalar metric quantifying performance of the resulting reduced-order system.
Prof. Russ Tedrake (adviser)
Prof. Neville Hogan (chair)
Prof. Nick Roy
Prof. Dan Frey
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