A novel hierarchical network based on coupled nonlinear oscillators is proposed for motor pattern generation in hexapod robots. Its architecture consists of a central pattern generator (CPG), producing the global leg coordination pattern, coupled with six local pattern generators, each devoted to generating the trajectory of one leg. Every node comprises a simple nonlinear oscillator and is well-suited for implementation in a standard field-programmable analog array device. The network enables versatile locomotion control based on five high-level parameters which determine the inter-oscillator coupling pattern via simple rules. The controller was realized on dedicated hardware, deployed to control an ant-like hexapod robot, and multi-sensory telemetry was performed. As a function of a single parameter, it was able to stably reproduce the canonical gaits observed in six-legged insects, namely the wave, tetrapod, and tripod gaits. A second parameter enabled driving the robot in ant-like and cockroach-like postures. Three further parameters enabled inhibiting and resuming walking, steering, and producing uncoordinated movement. Emergent phenomena were observed in the form of a multitude of intermediate gaits and of hysteresis and metastability close to a point of gait transition. The primary contributions of this paper reside in the hierarchical controller architecture and associated approach for collapsing a large set of low-level parameters, stemming from the complex hexapod kinematics, into only five high-level parameters. Such parameters can be changed dynamically, an aspect of broad practical relevance opening new avenues for driving hexapod robots via afferent signals from other circuits representing higher brain areas, or by means of suitable brain-computer interfaces. An additional contribution is the detailed characterization via telemetry of the physical robot, involving the definition of parameters which may aid future comparison with other controllers. The present results renew interest into analog CPG architectures and reinforce the generality of the connectionist approach.
|Titolo:||Versatile Locomotion Control of a Hexapod Robot Using a Hierarchical Network of Nonlinear Oscillator Circuits|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2018|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|