Generalized Omega Turn Gait Enables Agile Limbless Robot Turning in Complex Environments

by   Tianyu Wang, et al.

Reorientation (turning in plane) plays a critical role for all robots in any field application, especially those that in confined spaces. While important, reorientation remains a relatively unstudied problem for robots, including limbless mechanisms, often called snake robots. Instead of looking at snakes, we take inspiration from observations of the turning behavior of tiny nematode worms C. elegans. Our previous work presented an in-place and in-plane turning gait for limbless robots, called an omega turn, and prescribed it using a novel two-wave template. In this work, we advance omega turn-inspired controllers in three aspects: 1) we use geometric methods to vary joint angle amplitudes and forward wave spatial frequency in our turning equation to establish a wide and precise amplitude modulation and frequency modulation on omega turn; 2) we use this new relationship to enable robots with fewer internal degrees of freedom (i.e., fewer joints in the body) to achieve desirable performance, and 3) we apply compliant control methods to this relationship to handle unmodelled effects in the environment. We experimentally validate our approach on a limbless robot that the omega turn can produce effective and robust turning motion in various types of environments, such as granular media and rock pile.


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