Control of Multilegged Locomotion: what hybrid oscillators, rapid manufacturing, and slippage can teach us
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Most terrestrial animals massing several grams or more use more than two legs to move. Despite injury, aging, and disease; in the face of unknown and unstable substrates — animals often achieve their locomotion objectives. We seek a theory of animal motion that would allow us to design such robust locomotion into robotic systems. One candidate is oscillator theory. Viewed from its lens, rapid legged locomotion can be seen as a hybrid oscillator, or a collection of phase locked hybrid oscillators. Our recent theoretical advances allow us to analyze the stability of a large class of such hybrid oscillators, and demonstrate that by exploiting the hybrid structure they obtain robustness, and allow for modularity by requiring low communication complexity. Our new construction methods, based on modular robotics, have allowed us to rapidly build, test and evolve robot designs. Our quantitative analysis of the robot motions teaches us that we require better models for multi-contact slippage if the motions of our hexapedal robots are to be understood.
Shai Revzen is an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the College of Engineering, and holds a courtesy faculty appointment in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. He received his PhD in Integrative Biology doing research in the PolyPEDAL Lab at the University of California at Berkeley, and did his postdoctoral work in the GRASP Laboratory of the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to his academic work, Shai was Chief Architect R&D of the convergent systems division of Harmonic Lightwaves (HLIT), and a co-founder of Bio-Systems Analysis, a biomedical technology start-up.
As principal investigator of the Biologically Inspired Robotics and Dynamical Systems (BIRDS) lab, Shai sets the research agenda and innovative tone of the lab. He believes in the intrinsic value of fundamental science, and of its transformative potential for robotics and future technology. Under his supervision, the lab combines work in three disciplines: robotics, mathematics, and biology.