Penn Engineering

The School of Engineering and Applied Science, established in 1852, is composed of six academic departments and numerous interdisciplinary centers, institutes, and laboratories. At Penn Engineering, we are preparing the next generation of innovative engineers, entrepreneurs and leaders. Our unique culture of cooperation and teamwork, emphasis on research, and dedicated faculty advisors who teach as well as mentor, provide the ideal environment for the intellectual growth and development of well-rounded global citizens.

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 285
  • Publication
    Active Sensing for Dynamic, Non-holonomic, Robust Visual Servoing
    (2014-05-01) De, Avik; Bayer, Karl S.; Koditschek, Daniel E
    We consider the problem of visually servoing a legged vehicle with unicycle-like nonholonomic constraints subject to second-order fore-aft dynamics in its horizontal plane. We target applications to rugged environments characterized by complex terrain likely to perturb significantly the robot’s nominal dynamics. At the same time, it is crucial that the camera avoid “obstacle” poses where absolute localization would be compromised by even partial loss of landmark visibility. Hence, we seek a controller whose robustness against disturbances and obstacle avoidance capabilities can be assured by a strict global Lyapunov function. Since the nonholonomic constraints preclude smooth point stabilizability we introduce an extra degree of sensory freedom, affixing the camera to an actuated panning axis mounted on the robot’s back. Smooth stabilizability to the robot-orientation-indifferent goal cycle no longer precluded, we construct a controller and strict global Lyapunov function with the desired properties. We implement several versions of the scheme on a RHex robot maneuvering over slippery ground and document its successful empirical performance. For more information: Kod*Lab
  • Publication
    Modular Hopping and Running via Parallel Composition
    (2017-11-03) De, Avik
    Though multi-functional robot hardware has been created, the complexity in its functionality has been constrained by a lack of algorithms that appropriately manage flexible and autonomous reconfiguration of interconnections to physical and behavioral components. Raibert pioneered a paradigm for the synthesis of planar hopping using a composition of ``parts'': controlled vertical hopping, controlled forward speed, and controlled body attitude. Such reduced degree-of-freedom compositions also seem to appear in running animals across several orders of magnitude of scale. Dynamical systems theory can offer a formal representation of such reductions in terms of ``anchored templates,'' respecting which Raibert's empirical synthesis (and the animals' empirical performance) can be posed as a parallel composition. However, the orthodox notion (attracting invariant submanifold with restriction dynamics conjugate to a template system) has only been formally synthesized in a few isolated instances in engineering (juggling, brachiating, hexapedal running robots, etc.) and formally observed in biology only in similarly limited contexts. In order to bring Raibert's 1980's work into the 21st century and out of the laboratory, we design a new family of one-, two-, and four-legged robots with high power density, transparency, and control bandwidth. On these platforms, we demonstrate a growing collection of $\{$body, behavior$\}$ pairs that successfully embody dynamical running / hopping ``gaits'' specified using compositions of a few templates, with few parameters and a great deal of empirical robustness. We aim for and report substantial advances toward a formal notion of parallel composition---embodied behaviors that are correct by design even in the presence of nefarious coupling and perturbation---using a new analytical tool (hybrid dynamical averaging). With ideas of verifiable behavioral modularity and a firm understanding of the hardware tools required to implement them, we are closer to identifying the components required to flexibly program the exchange of work between machines and their environment. Knowing how to combine and sequence stable basins to solve arbitrarily complex tasks will result in improved foundations for robotics as it goes from ad-hoc practice to science (with predictive theories) in the next few decades.
  • Publication
    A leg configuration sensory system for dynamical body state estimates in a hexapod robot
    (2003-09-14) Lin, Pei-Chun; Komsuoglu, Haldun; Koditschek, Daniel E
    We report on a novel leg strain sensory system for the autonomous robot RHex [Saranli U. et al., 2001] implemented upon a cheap, high performance local wireless network [H. Komsuoglu, 2002]. We introduce a model for RHex's 4-bar legs [E.Z. Moore, 2001] relating leg strain to leg kinematic configuration in the body coordinate frame. We compare against ground truth measurement the performance of the model operating on real-time leg strain data generated under completely realistic operating conditions. We introduce an algorithm for computing six degree of freedom body posture measurements in world frame coordinates from the outputs of the six leg configuration models, together with a priori information about the ground. We discuss the manner in which such stance phase configuration estimates will be fused with other sensory data to develop the continuous time full body state estimates for RHex.
  • Publication
    Hybrid Zero Dynamics of Planar Biped Walkers
    (2003-01-01) Westervelt, E. R.; Grizzle, J. W.; Koditschek, Daniel E
    Planar, underactuated, biped walkers form an important domain of applications for hybrid dynamical systems. This paper presents the design of exponentially stable walking controllers for general planar bipedal systems that have one degree-of-freedom greater than the number of available actuators. The within-step control action creates an attracting invariant set—a two-dimensional zero dynamics submanifold of the full hybrid model—whose restriction dynamics admits a scalar linear time-invariant return map. Exponentially stable periodic orbits of the zero dynamics correspond to exponentially stabilizable orbits of the full model. A convenient parameterization of the hybrid zero dynamics is imposed through the choice of a class of output functions. Parameter optimization is used to tune the hybrid zero dynamics in order to achieve closed-loop, exponentially stable walking with low energy consumption, while meeting natural kinematic and dynamic constraints. The general theory developed in the paper is illustrated on a five link walker, consisting of a torso and two legs with knees.
  • Publication
    Integration of Local Geometry and Metric Information in Sampling-Based Motion Planning
    (2018-02-25) Pacelli, Vincent; Arslan, Omur; Koditschek, Daniel E.
    The efficiency of sampling-based motion planning algorithms is dependent on how well a steering procedure is capable of capturing both system dynamics and configuration space geometry to connect sample configurations. This paper considers how metrics describing local system dynamics may be combined with convex subsets of the free space to describe the local behavior of a steering function for sampling-based planners. Subsequently, a framework for using these subsets to extend the steering procedure to incorporate this information is introduced. To demonstrate our framework, three specific metrics are considered: the LQR cost-to-go function, a Gram matrix derived from system linearization, and the Mahalanobis distance of a linear-Gaussian system. Finally, numerical tests are conducted for a second-order linear system, a kinematic unicycle, and a linear-Gaussian system to demonstrate that our framework increases the connectivity of sampling-based planners and allows them to better explore the free space. For more information: Kod*lab.
  • Publication
    Analysis of A Simplified Hopping Robot
    (1991-12-01) Koditschek, Daniel E; Buehler, Martin
    This article offers some analytical results concerning simplified models of Raibert's hopper. We represent the task of achieving a recurring hopping height for an actuated "ball" robot as a stability problem in a nonlinear discrete dynamical control system. We model the properties of Raibert's control scheme in a simplified fashion and argue that his strategy leads to closed-loop dynamics governed by a well-known class of functions, the unimodal maps. The rich mathematical literature on this subject greatly advances our ability to determine the presence of an essentially globally attracting fixed point-the formal rendering of what we intuitively mean by a "correct" strategy. The motivation for this work is the hope that it will facilitate the development of general design principles for "dynamically dexterous" robots.
  • Publication
    Event Driven Parts Moving in 2D Endogenuous Environments
    (2000-04-01) Karagoz, C. Serkan; Bozma, H. Isil; Koditschek, Daniel E
    This paper is concerned with the parts’ moving problem based on an event-driven planning and control. We are interested in developing feedback based approaches to the automatic generation of actuator commands that cause the robot to move a set of parts from an arbitrary initial disassembled configuration to a specif ed final configuration. In the Phase I of this project, a composite algorithm that reactively switches between different feedback controllers has been shown to induce a noncooperative game being played among the parts being manipulated. This paper describes experimental results with EDAR - Event-Driven Assembler Robot - developed for moving parts based on feedback techniques. For more information: Kod*Lab
  • Publication
    Rigid body visual servoing using navigation functions
    (2000-12-12) Cowan, Noah J; Lopes, Gabriel A. D.; Koditschek, Daniel E
    Visual servo controllers in the literature rarely achieve provably large domains of attraction, and seldom address two important sensor limitations: (i) susceptibility to self-occlusions and (ii) finite field of view (FOV). We tackle the problem of global, occlusion-free visual servoing of a fully actuated rigid body by recourse to navigation functions on a compact manifold which encode these restrictions as control obstacles. For occlusion free rigid body servoing, the manifold of interest is the "visible" set of rigid body configurations, that is, those for which the feature points are within the field of view and unoccluded by the body. For a set of coplanar feature points on one face of a convex polyhedron, we show that a slightly conservative subset of the visible set has a simple topology amenable to analytical construction of a navigation function. We construct the controller via a closed form coordinate transformation from our problem domain into the topological model space and conclude with simulation results.
  • Publication
    Averaged Anchoring of Decoupled Templates in a Tail-Energized Monoped
    (2015-01-01) De, Avik; Koditschek, Daniel E
    We refine and advance a notion of parallel composition to achieve for the first time a stability proof and empirical demonstration of a steady-state gait on a highly coupled 3DOF legged platform controlled by two simple (decoupled) feedback laws that provably stabilize in isolation two simple 1DOF mechanical subsystems. Specifically, we stabilize a limit cycle on a tailed monoped to excite sustained sagittal plane translational hopping energized by tail-pumping during stance. The constituent subsystems for which the controllers are nominally designed are: (i) a purely vertical bouncing mass (controlled by injecting energy into its springy shaft); and (ii) a purely tangential rimless wheel (controlled by adjusting the inter-spoke stepping angle).We introduce the use of averaging methods in legged locomotion to prove that this “parallel composition” of independent 1DOF controllers achieves an asymptotically stable closed-loop hybrid limit cycle for a dynamical system that approximates the 3DOF stance mechanics of our physical tailed monoped.We present experimental data demonstrating stability and close agreement between the motion of the physical hopping machine and numerical simulations of the (mathematically tractable) approximating model. More information:
  • Publication
    Multistable Phase Regulation for Robust Steady and Transitional Legged Gaits
    (2011-09-29) Haynes, G. C; Rizzi, Alfred A; Koditschek, Daniel E
    We develop robust methods that allow specification, control, and transition of a multi-legged robot’s stepping pattern—its gait—during active locomotion over natural terrain. Resulting gaits emerge through the introduction of controllers that impose appropriately-placed repellors within the space of gaits, the torus of relative leg phases, thereby mitigating against dangerous patterns of leg timing. Moreover, these repellors are organized with respect to a natural cellular decomposition of gait space and result in limit cycles with associated basins that are well characterized by these cells, thus conferring a symbolic character upon the overall behavioral repertoire. These ideas are particularly applicable to four- and six-legged robots, for which a large variety of interesting and useful (and, in many cases, familiar) gaits exist, and whose tradeoffs between speed and reliability motivate the desire for transitioning between them during active locomotion. We provide an empirical instance of this gait regulation scheme by application to a climbing hexapod, whose “physical layer” sensor-feedback control requires adequate grasp of a climbing surface but whose closed loop control perturbs the robot from its desired gait. We document how the regulation scheme secures the desired gait and permits operator selection of different gaits as required during active climbing on challenging surfaces.