Design and development of a hominid robot with local control in its adaptable feet to enhance locomotion capabilities

Daniel Kuehn

PhD-Thesis DFKI GmbH RIC 12/2016.


With increasing mechanization of our daily lives, the expectations and demands in robotic systems increase in the general public and in scientists alike. In recent events such as the ``Deepwater Horizon''-accident or the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, mobile robotic systems were used, e.g., to support local task forces by gaining visual material to allow an analysis of the situation. Especially the Fukushima example shows that the robotic systems not only have to face a variety of different tasks during operation but also have to deal with different demands regarding the robot's mobility characteristics. To be able to cope with future requirements, it seems necessary to develop kinematically complex systems that feature several different operating modes. That is where this thesis comes in: A robotic system is developed, whose morphology is oriented on chimpanzees and which has the possibility due to its electro-mechanical structure and the degrees of freedom in its arms and legs to walk with different gaits in different postures. For the proposed robot, the chimpanzee was chosen as a model, since these animals show a multitude of different gaits in nature. A quadrupedal gait like crawl allows the robot to traverse safely and stable over rough terrain. A change into the humanoid, bipedal posture enables the robot to move in man-made environments. The structures, which are necessary to ensure an effective and stable locomotion in these two poses, e.g., the feet, are presented in more detail within the thesis. This includes the biological model and an abstraction to allow a technical implementation. In addition, biological spines are analyzed and the development of an active, artificial spine for the robotic system is described. These additional degrees of freedom can increase the robot's locomotion and manipulation capabilities and even allow to show movements, which are not possible without a spine. Unfortunately, the benefits of using an artificial spine in robotic systems are nowadays still neglected, due to the increased complexity of system design and control. To be able to control such a kinematically complex system, a multitude of sensors is installed within the robot's structures. By placing evaluation electronics close by, a local and decentralized preprocessing is realized. Due to this preprocessing is it possible to realize behaviors on the lowest level of robot control: in this thesis it is exemplarily demonstrated by a local controller in the robot's lower leg. In addition to the development and evaluation of robot's structures, the functionality of the overall system is analyzed in different environments. This includes the presentation of detailed data to show the advantages and disadvantages of the local controller. The robot can change its posture independently from a quadrupedal into a bipedal stance and the other way around without external assistance. Once the robot stands upright, it is to investigate to what extent the quadrupedal walking pattern and control structures (like the local controller) have to be modified to contribute to the bipedal walking as well.


Dissertation_AStandard.pdf (pdf, 35 MB )

Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence