A Self-Exciting Controller for High-Speed Vertical Running

Traditional legged runners and climbers have relied heavily on gait generators in the form of internal clocks or reference trajectories. In contrast, here we present physical experiments with a fast, dynamical, vertical wall climbing robot accompanying a stability proof for the controller that generates it without any need for an additional internal clock or reference signal. Specifically, we show that this “self-exciting” controller does indeed generate an “almost” globally asymptotically stable limit cycle: the attractor basin is as large as topologically possible and includes all the state space excluding a set with empty interior. We offer an empirical comparison of the resulting climbing behavior to that achieved by a more conventional clock-generated gait trajectory tracker. The new, self-exciting gait generator exhibits a marked improvement in vertical climbing speed, in fact setting a new benchmark in dynamic climbing by achieving a vertical speed of 1.5 body lengths per second.

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