Orientation Control System: Enhancing Aerial Maneuvers for Quadruped Robots

Sensors (Basel). 2023 Jan 20;23(3):1234. doi: 10.3390/s23031234.


For legged robots, aerial motions are the only option to overpass obstacles that cannot be circumvented with standard locomotion gaits. In these cases, the robot must perform a leap to either jump onto the obstacle or fly over it. However, these movements represent a challenge, because, during the flight phase, the Center of Mass (CoM) cannot be controlled, and there is limited controllability over the orientation of the robot. This paper focuses on the latter issue and proposes an Orientation Control System (OCS), consisting of two rotating and actuated masses (flywheels or reaction wheels), to gain control authority on the orientation of the robot. Due to the conservation of angular momentum, the rotational velocity if the robot can be adjusted to steer the robot's orientation, even when the robot has no contact with the ground. The axes of rotation of the flywheels are designed to be incident, leading to a compact orientation control system that is capable of controlling both roll and pitch angles, considering the different moments of inertia in the two directions. The concept was tested by means of simulations on the robot Solo12.

Keywords: articulated multi-body system; legged robot; orientation control.