Autonomous Behaviors With A Legged Robot
Over the last ten years, technological advancements in sensory, motor, and computational capabilities have made it a real possibility for a legged robotic platform to traverse a diverse set of terrains and execute a variety of tasks on its own, with little to no outside intervention. However, there are still several technical challenges to be addressed in order to reach complete autonomy, where such a platform operates as an independent entity that communicates and cooperates with other intelligent systems, including humans. A central limitation for reaching this ultimate goal is modeling the world in which the robot is operating, the tasks it needs to execute, the sensors it is equipped with, and its level of mobility, all in a unified setting. This thesis presents a simple approach resulting in control strategies that are backed by a suite of formal correctness guarantees. We showcase the virtues of this approach via implementation of two behaviors on a legged mobile platform, autonomous natural terrain ascent and indoor multi-flight stairwell ascent, where we report on an extensive set of experiments demonstrating their empirical success. Lastly, we explore how to deal with violations to these models, specifically the robot's environment, where we present two possible extensions with potential performance improvements under such conditions.