Cheetah robot learned to overcome obstacles during the movement

RoboticsJune 5, 2015
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Last time, when we were talking about the cheetah robot developed by the specialists of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this robot already could independently and without any leash to move on the lawn covered with a grass with a speed of up to 16 kilometers per hour and to jump up to the height of about 35 centimeters. Since then, the design of the robot was subjected to a number of modifications, the robot received LIDAR laser scanning system of and special program algorithms which allow it to find obstacles on its way during the movement and to jump through them, like a live cheetah.

Let’s remind our readers that the development of the cheetah robot has been conducted in Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a few years. And the purpose of this robot development is the realization of the most effective way of movement which is possessed by the fastest animal on the globe. It not the only cheetah robot in this world, similar robots were created by the specialists of Management of perspective research programs of the DARPA Pentagon and the known robotic company Boston Dynamics.

After receiving the laser scanner which constantly scans the surrounding space in the order, the cheetah robot always has information about the obstacles which lie meet on its way. This information, available through processing of the specialized algorithms, allows a control system of the robot to calculate speed, force and sequence of steps, and determining whether the robot will be able to jump through the obstacle.

The first part of an algorithm serves for defining the existence of an obstacle, its size and distance to it. The second part of an algorithm allows to define the best situation where it is possible to make a jump and safely to overcome an obstacle. These algorithms work once per every 100 milliseconds, dynamically operating the movement of the robot both counting and arranging each step in the process of current step performance.

The third part of the algorithm, considering the obstacle height, speed of the robot movement and some other sizes, is engaged in calculations of an optimum point and trajectory of “jumping up”. On the basis of these data efforts and capacities which need to be brought to electric drives of extremities of the robot pay off.

During the “hopping” tests the cheetah robot running with a speed of 8 kilometers per hour and attached by a safety cable could jump over obstacles, 45 centimeters high. Thus, the number of successful jumps made about 70 percent. But as soon as the robot moved to more spacious room where it had more space for maneuvers, and exempted from a leash, the number of successful jumps grew at once to 90 percent.

“The running jump is a really dynamic movement” – tells Sangbae Kim, professor from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, – “During such movement a very exact management of balance, energy is required, and after a jump the accounting of blow about a surface and inertia is required. And the system of our robot successfully copes with the solution of all these not simple tasks”.

In the near future, researchers will work on the next modernization of the robot in order that it could make jumps not only on a firm surface, but also on soft, such as the earth of a lawn covered with a grass. And this modernization will be ready by June when the team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows the robot at the DARPA Robotics Challenge competition.

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