TitleWALK-MAN: A High-Performance Humanoid Platform for Realistic Environments
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsTsagarakis, NG, Caldwell, DG, Negrello, F, Choi, W, Baccelliere, L, Loc, VG, Noorden, J, Muratore, L, Margan, A, Cardellino, A, Natale, L, E. Hoffman, M, Dallali, H, Kashiri, N, Malzahn, J, Lee, J, Kryczka, P, Kanoulas, D, Garabini, M, Catalano, MG, Ferrati, M, Varricchio, V, Pallottino, L, Pavan, C, Bicchi, A, Settimi, A, Rocchi, A, A. Ajoudani
JournalJournal of Field Robotics
Pagination1 - 34
Date Published06/2017

In this work, we present WALK-MAN, a humanoid platform that has been developed to operate in realistic unstructured environment, and demonstrate new skills including powerful manipulation, robust balanced locomotion, high-strength capabilities, and physical sturdiness. To enable these capabilities, WALK-MAN design and actuation are based on the most recent advancements of series elastic actuator drives with unique performance features that differentiate the robot from previous state-of-the-art compliant actuated robots. Physical interaction performance is benefited by both active and passive adaptation, thanks to WALK-MAN actuation that combines customized high-performance modules with tuned torque/velocity curves and transmission elasticity for high-speed adaptation response and motion reactions to disturbances. WALK-MAN design also includes innovative design optimization features that consider the selection of kinematic structure and the placement of the actuators with the body structure to maximize the robot performance. Physical robustness is ensured with the integration of elastic transmission, proprioceptive sensing, and control. The WALK-MAN hardware was designed and built in 11 months, and the prototype of the robot was ready four months before DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Finals. The motion generation of WALK-MAN is based on the unified motion-generation framework of whole-body locomotion and manipulation (termed loco-manipulation). WALK-MAN is able to execute simple loco-manipulation behaviors synthesized by combining different primitives defining the behavior of the center of gravity, the motion of the hands, legs, and head, the body attitude and posture, and the constrained body parts such as joint limits and contacts. The motion-generation framework including the specific motion modules and software architecture is discussed in detail. A rich perception system allows the robot to perceive and generate 3D representations of the environment as well as detect contacts and sense physical interaction force and moments. The operator station that pilots use to control the robot provides a rich pilot interface with different control modes and a number of teleoperated or semiautonomous command features. The capability of the robot and the performance of the individual motion control and perception modules were validated during the DRC in which the robot was able to demonstrate exceptional physical resilience and execute some of the tasks during the competition.

Refereed DesignationRefereed
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