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From Underactuation to Quasi-Full Actuation: A Unifying Control Framework for Rigid and Elastic Joint Robots

Keppler, Manuel (2023) From Underactuation to Quasi-Full Actuation: A Unifying Control Framework for Rigid and Elastic Joint Robots. Dissertation, Technical University of Munich.

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The quest for animal-like performance in robots has driven the integration of elastic elements in their drive trains, sparking a revolution in robot design. Elastic robots can store and release potential energy, providing distinct advantages over traditional robots, such as enhanced safety in human-robot interaction, resilience to mechanical shocks, improved energy efficiency in cyclic tasks, and dynamic motion capabilities. Exploiting their full potential, however, necessitates novel control methods. This thesis advances the field of nonlinear control for underactuated systems and utilizes the results to push the boundaries of motion and interaction performance of elastic robots. Through real-life experiments and applications, the proposed controllers demonstrate that compliant robots hold promise as groundbreaking robotic technology. To achieve these objectives, we first derive a simultaneous phase space and input transformation that enables a specific class of underactuated Lagrangian systems to be treated as if fully actuated. These systems can be represented as the interconnection of actuated and underactuated subsystems, with the kinetic energy of each subsystem depending only on its own velocity. Elastic robots are typical representatives. We refer to the transformed system as quasi-fully actuated due to weak constraints on the new inputs. Fundamental aspects of the transforming equations are 1) the same Lagrangian function characterizes both the original and transformed systems, 2) the transformed system establishes a passive mapping between inputs and outputs, and 3) the solutions of both systems are in a one-to-one correspondence, describing the same physical reality. This correspondence allows us to study and control the behavior of the quasi-fully actuated system instead of the underactuated one. Thus, this approach unifies the control design for rigid and elastic joint robots, enabling the direct application of control results inherited from the fully-actuated case while ensuring closed-loop system stability and passivity. Unlike existing methods, the quasi-full actuation concept does not rely on inner control loops or the neglect and cancellation of dynamics. Notably, as joint stiffness values approach infinity, the control equivalent of a rigid robot is recovered. Building upon the quasi-full actuation concept, we extend energy-based control schemes such as energy shaping and damping injection, Euler-Lagrange controllers, and impedance control. Moreover, we introduce Elastic Structure Preserving (ESP) control, a passivity-based control scheme designed for robots with elastic or viscoelastic joints, guided by the principle of ``do as little as possible''. The underlying hope is that reducing the system shaping, i.e., having a closed-loop dynamics match in some way the robot's intrinsic structure, will award high performance with little control effort. By minimizing the system shaping, we obtain low-gain designs, which are favorable concerning robustness and facilitate the emergence of natural motions. A comparison with state-of-the-art controllers highlights the minimalistic nature of ESP control. Additionally, we present a synthesis method, based on purely geometric arguments, for achieving time-optimal rest-to-rest motions of an elastic joint with bounded input. Finally, we showcase the remarkable performance and robustness of the proposed ESP controllers on DLR David, an anthropomorphic robot implemented with variable impedance actuators. Experimental evidence reveals that ESP designs enable safe and compliant interaction with the environment and rigid-robot-level accuracy in free motion. Additionally, we introduce a control framework that allows DLR David to perform commercially relevant tasks, such as pick and place, teleoperation, hammer drilling into a concrete block, and unloading a dishwasher. The successful execution of these tasks provides compelling evidence that compliant robots have a promising future in commercial applications.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/195395/
Document Type:Thesis (Dissertation)
Title:From Underactuation to Quasi-Full Actuation: A Unifying Control Framework for Rigid and Elastic Joint Robots
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Keppler, ManuelUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-1532-963XUNSPECIFIED
Journal or Publication Title:From Underactuation to Quasi‐Full Actuation: A Unifying Control Framework for Rigid and Elastic Joint Robot
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Number of Pages:326
Keywords:elastic robots, soft robots, motion and interaction control, passivity-based control, impedance control, underactuation, variable stiffness
Institution:Technical University of Munich
Department:TUM School of Computation, Information and Technology
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Robotics
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R RO - Robotics
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Interacting Robot Control [RO]
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics (since 2013)
Deposited By: Keppler, Manuel
Deposited On:20 Jun 2023 07:34
Last Modified:26 Sep 2023 14:33

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