Open-source legged robotics, from hardware to control software

Majid Khadiv, Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems


Location: Zoom

Time: 10:00a.m.

Abstract: Legged robots (especially humanoids) are the most suitable robot platform that could be deployed in our daily lives in the future. However, the complexity in the mechanical structure of these robots as well as the need for an advanced control software hindered progress in this field. On the hardware side, there is no standard hardware such that researchers can use to benchmark and compare their algorithms. Furthermore, legged robots are expensive and not every lab can afford to buy them for research. On the control side, the dynamics of these robots are highly complex which makes their control extremely challenging. This complexity has several aspects: 1) These robots are under-actuated and could easily fall down if not controlled properly, 2) locomotion can only be realized through establishing and breaking contact which enforces a hybrid dynamics, 3) The system is very high dimensional (up to 100 states and 50 control inputs) and the dynamic model is highly nonlinear, 4) the system is extremely constrained due to the limited amount of contact forces between the robot and the environment, etc. In this talk, I will first briefly present our recent efforts in the Open Dynamic Robot Initiative (ODRI) to provide the community with low-cost, but high-performance legged platforms that are fully open-source and can be replicated quickly using 3D-printing technology. I will also extensively talk about my recent efforts to find tractable ways at the intersection of optimal control and reinforcement learning to safely control legged robots in the presence of different uncertainties and disturbances.