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Footstep Adjustment for Biped Push Recovery on Slippery Surfaces

Biped robots are good candidates for collaborating with humans due to their locomotion mode that is similar to the human gait. However, in real conditions, factors such as low-value friction coefficient or surface irregularities increase the likelihood of slippery and stumbling.

Image credit: Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain

A recent paper on arXiv.org proposes a discrete event-based gait longitudinal motion controller to overcome the problem. It adjusts step length and time period at the beginning of each step according to changing circumstances and surface friction limitations.

A no-slippage safe region is determined in the state space such that keeping the initial state in that region prevents the biped from slipping. In situations where the initial state is out of the safe region, a step-time adjustment scheme is considered. The soundness of the proposed algorithm is proven formally and validated through several numerical simulations.

Despite extensive studies on motion stabilization of bipeds, they still suffer from the lack of disturbance coping capability on slippery surfaces. In this paper, a novel controller for stabilizing a bipedal motion in its sagittal plane is developed with regard to the surface friction limitations. By taking into account the physical limitation of the surface in the stabilization trend, a more advanced level of reliability is achieved that provides higher functionalities such as push recovery on low-friction surfaces and prevents the stabilizer from overreacting. The discrete event-based strategy consists of modifying the step length and time period at the beginning of each footstep in order to reestablish stability necessary conditions while taking into account the surface friction limitation as a constraint to prevent slippage. Adjusting footsteps to prevent slippage in confronting external disturbances is perceived as a novel strategy for keeping stability, quite similar to human reaction. The developed methodology consists of rough closed-form solutions utilizing elementary math operations for obtaining the control inputs, allowing to reach a balance between convergence and computational cost, which is quite suitable for real-time operations even with modest computational hardware. Several numerical simulations, including push recovery and switching between different gates on low-friction surfaces, are performed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed controller. In correlation with human-gait experience, the results also reveal some physical aspects favoring stability and the fact of switching between gaits to reduce the risk of falling in confronting different conditions.

Research paper: Ghorbani, E., Karimpour, H., Pasandi, V., and Keshmiri, M., “Footstep Adjustment for Biped Push Recovery on Slippery Surfaces”, 2021. Link: https://arxiv.org/abs/2111.05203

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