An Efficient Acyclic Contact Planner for Multiped Robots

Abstract

We present a contact planner for complex legged locomotion tasks: standing up, climbing stairs using a handrail, crossing rubble, and getting out of a car. The need for such a planner was shown at the DARPA Robotics Challenge, where such behaviors could not be demonstrated (except for egress). Current planners suffer from their prohibitive algorithmic complexity because they deploy a tree of robot configurations projected in contact with the environment. We tackle this issue by introducing a reduction property: the reachability condition. This condition defines a geometric approximation of the contact manifold, which is of low dimension, presents a Cartesian topology, and can be efficiently sampled and explored. The hard contact planning problem can then be decomposed into two subproblems: first, we plan a path for the root without considering the whole-body configuration, using a sampling-based algorithm; then, we generate a discrete sequence of whole-body configurations in static equilibrium along this path, using a deterministic contact-selection algorithm. The reduction breaks the algorithm complexity encountered in previous works, resulting in the first interactive implementation of a contact planner (open source). While no contact planner has yet been proposed with theoretical completeness, we empirically show the interest of our framework: in a few seconds, with high success rates, we generate complex contact plans for various scenarios and two robots: HRP-2 and HyQ. These plans are validated in dynamic simulations or on the real HRP-2 robot.

Publication
IEEE Transactions on Robotics
Date
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