- Doctoral Thesis
Rights / licenseIn Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
Robotic technologies will continue to enter new applications in addition to automated manufacturing and logistics. Once mobile robots can also operate outside of today's special facilities, they have the potential to relieve us of dirty and dangerous labor in various areas. However, for this purpose, these machines will need to be able to navigate autonomously in complex natural, urban, and industrial settings. This thesis addresses the development of locomotion skills for legged robots in challenging environments. Our work focuses on perceptive locomotion where exteroceptive sensing of the surrounding is exploited to plan and control the robot’s motion. This enables quadrupedal robots to negotiate rough terrain through carefully selected contacts. In this work, we evaluate different sensing technologies and analyze their performance for local dense terrain mapping on a mobile robot. We include special conditions such as close range objects and the influence of ambient light as we find them in real-world applications. By modeling the error characteristics of the sensors, the robot can judge the quality of the resulting terrain reconstruction. As the robot moves, the surrounding is continuously mapped to capture new areas and update regions which have changed. We contribute with a mapping framework that models the terrain from a robot-centric perspective. To this end, we present a novel approach for the error propagation from the robot's state estimation to the representation of the map. This formulation allows for robust and high-rate local mapping that is independent of a global localization method. We introduce our approach to locomotion planning, which finds safe footholds along with collision-free swing-leg motions, leveraging the generated terrain map. A nonlinear optimization finds postures that respect kinematic and stability constraints. We experimentally verify this work with torque-controllable quadrupedal robots that autonomously traverse obstacles, such as rubble, steps, gaps, and stairs without prior knowledge of the scene or any additional equipment. The locomotion planner re-plans its motion at every step in real-time, to cope with disturbances and dynamic environments. For the control of the legged robot, we contribute architecturally to the versatile and task-oriented motion execution. This method enables the robust tracking of motion plans, even with significant mismatches between the models and reality. In addition to rough terrain locomotion, we demonstrate the integration of our method for applications, such as whole-body stair climbing, manipulation, jumping, docking, inspection, payload delivery, dancing, and more. Our approach is thoroughly validated with the quadrupedal robot ANYmal in realistic long-term missions for autonomous industrial inspection and search and rescue. Finally, we extend our work with the design and implementation of a collaborative navigation framework for ground and flying robots. The ground vehicle utilizes the data captured by the flying robot to navigate uncharted environments efficiently Show more
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ContributorsExaminer: Siegwart, Roland Y.
Examiner: Hutter, Marco
Examiner: Pratt, Jerry
SubjectLegged locomotion; Legged robotics; Rough terrain; Rough terrain traversal; Real-world deployment; Perception; Sensor modeling; Sensor evaluation; Mapping; Terrain mapping; Terrain estimation; Whole-body control; Whole-body abstraction layer; Grid map; Elevation mapping; Free Gait; Robot control; Foothold planning; Motion planning; Trajectory planning; Foothold selection; Quadrupedal Robots; ANYmal; StarlETH; Collaborative navigation; Robot team
Organisational unit03737 - Siegwart, Roland Y. / Siegwart, Roland Y.
09570 - Hutter, Marco / Hutter, Marco
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