From stable to chaotic juggling: theory, simulation, and experiments

Recent results of dynamical systems theory are used to derive strong predictions concerning the global properties of a simplified model of a planar juggling robot. In particular, it is found that certain lower-order local (linearized) stability properties determine the essential global (nonlinear) stability properties, and that successive increments in the controller gain settings give rise to a cascade of stable period-doubling bifurcations that comprise a universal route to chaos. The theoretical predictions are verified by simulation and corroborated by experimental data from the juggling robot.