Virtual Model Control of a Biped Walking Robot
The transformation from high level task specification to low level motion control is a fundamental issue in sensorimotor control in animals and robots. This thesis develops a control scheme called virtual model control which addresses this issue. Virtual model control is a motion control language which uses simulations of imagined mechanical components to create forces, which are applied through joint torques, thereby creating the illusion that the components are connected to the robot. Due to the intuitive nature of this technique, designing a virtual model controller requires the same skills as designing the mechanism itself. A high level control system can be cascaded with the low level virtual model controller to modulate the parameters of the virtual mechanisms. Discrete commands from the high level controller would then result in fluid motion. An extension of Gardner's Partitioned Actuator Set Control method is developed. This method allows for the specification of constraints on the generalized forces which each serial path of a parallel mechanism can apply. Virtual model control has been applied to a bipedal walking robot. A simple algorithm utilizing a simple set of virtual components has successfully compelled the robot to walk eight consecutive steps.