Control Synergies for Rapid Stabilization and Enlarged Region of Attraction for a Model of Hopping
Inspired by biological control synergies, wherein fixed groups of muscles are activated in a coordinated fashion to perform tasks in a stable way, we present an analogous control approach for the stabilization of legged robots and apply it to a model of running. Our approach is based on the step-to-step notion of stability, also known as orbital stability, using an orbital control Lyapunov function. We map both the robot state at a suitably chosen Poincaré section (an instant in the locomotion cycle such as the mid-flight phase) and control actions (e.g., foot placement angle, thrust force, braking force) at the current step, to the robot state at the Poincaré section at the next step. This map is used to find the control action that leads to a steady state (nominal) gait. Next, we define a quadratic Lyapunov function at the Poincaré section. For a range of initial conditions, we find control actions that would minimize an energy metric while ensuring that the Lyapunov function decays exponentially fast between successive steps. For the model of running, we find that the optimization reveals three distinct control synergies depending on the initial conditions: (1) foot placement angle is used when total energy is the same as that of the steady state (nominal) gait; (2) foot placement angle and thrust force are used when total energy is less than the nominal; and (3) foot placement angle and braking force are used when total energy is more than the nominal.