Robo-Rats Locomotion Page

There are many different locomotion types for small mobile robots.  Generally, they can be divided into two types: legged and wheeled.  Legged locomotion is very versatile but not as efficient as wheeled locomotion when the terrain is planar.  However, on rough terrain legged locomotion is superior to wheeled locomotion.

In the context of this course, we will only describe locomotion methods that are statically stable.  (Human bipedal locomotion, for example, is not statically stable, i.e. stable through all phases of the stride--if a person stops walking in the middle of a stride he may fall because some poses are not stable, only the momentum of walking maintains balance). Controlling locomotion that is not statically stable is very difficult and requires time-critical processing, something that cannot be done (easily) with a Handyboard.  Therefore we will only deal with locomotion that is statically stable-- that's a hard enough challenge as you will see...

Note that in our previous Robo-Rat course, all robots were of the wheeled variety.  Since the competition takes place on a flat surface, the overwhelming efficiency of wheeled locomotion makes legged locomotion somewhat impractical.  However, one advantage I can see for legged locomotion is in the area of odometry.  Since each step covers a known distance, by counting steps it is fairly easy to know the robot's location.  Also, it is easy to design a legged robot which is guaranteed to move in a straight line.  On the other hand, designing a turning mechanism which preserves the "simple odometry" property may be very hard.  

Below you will find descriptions of various locomotion systems.

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Last modified: 04/04/01 22:30