Efficient and Stable Locomotion for Impulse-Actuated Robots Using Strictly Convex Foot Shapes

20 Apr 2018

Impulsive actuation enables robots to perform agile manoeuvres and surpass difficult terrain, yet its capacity to induce continuous and stable locomotion have not been explored. We claim that strictly convex foot shapes can improve impulse effectiveness (impulse used per travelled distance) and locomotion speed by facilitating periodicity and stability. To test this premise, we introduce a theoretical two-dimensional model based on rigidbody mechanics to prove stability. We then implement a more elaborate model in simulation to study transient behaviour and impulse effectiveness. Finally, we test our findings on a robot platform to prove their physical validity. Our results prove, that continuous and stable locomotion can be achieved in the strictly convex case of a disc with off-centred mass. In keeping with our theory, stable limit cycles of the off-centred disc outperform the theoretical performance of a cube in simulation and experiment, using up to 10 times less impulse per distance to travel at the same locomotion speed.