Fast and Efficient Locomotion via Learned Gait Transitions

04/09/2021 ∙ by Yuxiang Yang, et al. ∙ 3

We focus on the problem of developing efficient controllers for quadrupedal robots. Animals can actively switch gaits at different speeds to lower their energy consumption. In this paper, we devise a hierarchical learning framework, in which distinctive locomotion gaits and natural gait transitions emerge automatically with a simple reward of energy minimization. We use reinforcement learning to train a high-level gait policy that specifies the contact schedules of each foot, while the low-level Model Predictive Controller (MPC) optimizes the motor torques so that the robot can walk at a desired velocity using that gait pattern. We test our learning framework on a quadruped robot and demonstrate automatic gait transitions, from walking to trotting and to fly-trotting, as the robot increases its speed up to 2.5m/s (5 body lengths/s). We show that the learned hierarchical controller consumes much less energy across a wide range of locomotion speed than baseline controllers.

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