Bio-inspired swing leg control for spring-mass robots running on ground with unexpected height disturbance

Bioinspir Biomim. 2013 Dec;8(4):046006. doi: 10.1088/1748-3182/8/4/046006. Epub 2013 Oct 29.


We proposed three swing leg control policies for spring-mass running robots, inspired by experimental data from our recent collaborative work on ground running birds. Previous investigations suggest that animals may prioritize injury avoidance and/or efficiency as their objective function during running rather than maintaining limit-cycle stability. Therefore, in this study we targeted structural capacity (maximum leg force to avoid damage) and efficiency as the main goals for our control policies, since these objective functions are crucial to reduce motor size and structure weight. Each proposed policy controls the leg angle as a function of time during flight phase such that its objective function during the subsequent stance phase is regulated. The three objective functions that are regulated in the control policies are (i) the leg peak force, (ii) the axial impulse, and (iii) the leg actuator work. It should be noted that each control policy regulates one single objective function. Surprisingly, all three swing leg control policies result in nearly identical subsequent stance phase dynamics. This implies that the implementation of any of the proposed control policies would satisfy both goals (damage avoidance and efficiency) at once. Furthermore, all three control policies require a surprisingly simple leg angle adjustment: leg retraction with constant angular acceleration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biomimetics / instrumentation*
  • Biomimetics / methods*
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Computer-Aided Design
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Extremities / physiology*
  • Feedback
  • Feedback, Physiological / physiology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Motor Vehicles*
  • Robotics / instrumentation*
  • Running / physiology*