Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

MAE Ph.D. Exit Seminar

Autonomous Generation and Control of Central Pattern Generator Networks for Modular Robot Locomotion

By: Kevin J. Gucwa Advisors: Professor Harry Cheng

Modular robots are robot modules used to build large, complex shapes out of simple building blocks designed for easy interchangeability. Their adaptability within hardware and software can provide the right robot for each and every situation through reconfiguration of the modules into new shapes. Properly controlling the hardware with coordinated locomotion is challenging but essential for the modules to work together and perform the assigned tasks. This research study has developed a two tiered approach which can coordinate and control the locomotion of modular robots assembled into bio-inspired shapes. The lowest level of control is in the joint space whereby all joints need to perform the right actions at the right time to produce a collaborative effort that results in locomotion. To accomplish this the Central Pattern Generator (CPG) network concept is applied from spinal vertebrate locomotion control. Each joint within the robot contributes in a small way to produce a coordinated, collaborative motion utilizing the whole body in unison. On top of the CPG network is a controller derived from the brain’s cerebellum control system to modulate the CPG network to perform specific tasks.

To accomplish the CPG equation generation, a toolkit for automatically generating the equations has been created by parsing through XML _le descriptions of the robot’s shape and determining known locomotion patterns for sub-structures of the interconnected modules. A simulation-based genetic algorithm process is used to generate motions and optimize the parameters of the CPG network to generate locomotion out of various robot shapes. This has been tested upon snake, salamander, and hexapod shaped robots built out of the robot modules in both simulation and experiments with hardware. On top of the CPG network is a controller to modulate the CPG locomotion so that the robot that can move predictably and follow objective trajectories. Once design of the locomotion scheme is completed, the CPG network and controller operate online in real-time to follow the desired trajectories.

Date(s) - 06/05/2017
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

2130 Bainer - MAE Conference Room


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