Scalable Minimally Actuated Leg Extension Bipedal Walker Based on 3D Passive Dynamics

Sharfin Islam1, Kamal Carter2, Justin K. Yim, James Kyle2, Sarah Bergbreiter, Aaron Johnson2

  • 1Columbia University
  • 2Carnegie Mellon University


10:45 - 10:50 | Tue 24 May | Room 113B | TuA03.08

Session: Climbing, Walking, and Whole Body Control

16:10 - 16:15 | Tue 24 May | Room 121 | TuAw2.7

Session: Outstanding Coordination / Mechanisms & Design / Locomotion / Navigation Award Finalists


We present simplified 2D dynamic models of the 3D, passive dynamic inspired walking gait of a physical quasipassive walking robot. Quasi-passive walkers are robots that integrate passive walking principles and some form of actuation. Our ultimate goal is to better understand the dynamics of actuated walking in order to create miniature, untethered, bipedal walking robots. At these smaller scales there is limited space and power available, and so in this work we leverage the passive dynamics of walking to reduce the burden on the actuators and controllers. Prior quasi-passive walkers are much larger than our intended scale, have more complicated mechanical designs, and require more precise feedback control and/or learning algorithms. By leveraging the passive 3D dynamics, carefully designing the spherical feet, and changing the actuation scheme, we are able to produce a very simple 3D bipedal walking model that has a total of 5 rigid bodies and a single actuator per leg. Additionally, the model requires no feedback as each actuator is controlled by an open-loop sinusoidal profile. We validate this model in 2D simulations in which we measure the stability properties while varying the leg length/amplitude ratio, the frequency of actuation, and the spherical foot profile. These results are also validated experimentally on a 3D walking robot (15cm leg length) that implements the modeled walking dynamics. Finally, we experimentally investigate the ability to control the heading of the robot by changing the open-loop control parameters of the robot.