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Journal of Bionic Engineering ›› 2018, Vol. 15 ›› Issue (2): 313-328.doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42235-018-0024-x

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Implementation of Caterpillar Inspired Rolling Gait and Nonlinear Control Strategy in a Spherical Robot

Abhra Roy Chowdhury1*, Gim Song Soh1,2, Shaohui Foong1,2, Kristin L. Wood1,2   

  1. 1. Temasek Laboratories, Engineering Product Development Pillar, Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore 487372
    2. SUTD-MIT International Design Centre, Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore 487372
  • Received:2017-06-02 Revised:2017-11-13 Online:2018-03-10 Published:2017-11-18
  • Contact: Abhra Roy Chowdhury E-mail:abhra_rc@sutd.edu.sg
  • About author:Abhra Roy Chowdhury1*, Gim Song Soh1,2, Shaohui Foong1,2, Kristin L. Wood1,2

Abstract: This paper presents a novel Central Pattern Generator (CPG) based rolling gait generation in a small-sized spherical robot and its nonlinear control mechanism. A rhythmic rolling pattern mimicking Pleurotya caterpillar is produced for the spherical robot locomotion. A synergetically combined feedforward-feedback control strategy is proposed. The feedforward component is generated from centrally connected network of CPGs in conjunction with nonlinear robot dynamics. Two nonlinear feedback control methods namely integral (first order) Sliding Mode Control (SMC) and High (or second) Order Sliding Mode Control (HOSMC) are proposed to regulate robot stability and gait robustness in the presence of matched parameter uncertainties and bounded external disturbances. Design, implementation and experimental evaluation of both roll gait control strategies for the spherical robot are done on smooth (indoor) and irregular (outdoor) ground surfaces. The performance of robot control is quantified by measuring the roll angle stability, phase plane convergence and wheel velocities. Experimental results show that proposed novel strategy is efficient in producing a stable rolling gait and robust control of a spherical robot on two different types of surfaces. It further shows that proposed high HOSMC strategy is more efficient in robust rolling gait control of a spherical robot compared to an integral first-order SMC on two different ground conditions.

Key words: rolling gait, CPG, rolling friction, bioinspired spherical robot, HOSMC, integral first-order SMC control