Four-leg robot spontaneously trots, canters, then gallops

In an example of emergent behaviour, researchers at Tohoku University have created a control technique that allows a walking robot to spontaneously break into a trot, and then a gallop, as it is commanded to increase speed. The resulting energy-efficiency profile matches horses.

Tohoku walk trot gallop robot

There is no central algoritm. Instead, the team, led by Professor Akio Ishiguro and Dai Owaki, the team created a decentralised control scheme (see diagram), using a simple local rule in which a leg continues to support the body while sensing weight on the corresponding leg.

Tohoku walk trot gallop robotThe present work is expected to lead to better understanding of the mechanism of how quadrupeds can flexibly and efficiently adjust their gait when their speed is changed.

Tohoku walk trot gallop robot“The result may constitute the basis of an unconventional approach to coordinating the many degrees of freedoms required for adaptive robot locomotion,” said the University.

The researchers hope that the study will lead to improvements to adaptive legged robots working in disaster areas, user-friendly legged entertainment robots, and automatic motion-creation algorithms for computer graphics animation.

There is a video of the control technique in action, tested on a physical machine.

For more information, read ‘A quadruped robot exhibiting spontaneous gait transitions from walking to trotting to galloping‘ in Scientific Reports.

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