Proprioception Based Behavioral Advances in a Hexapod Robot

We report on our progress in extending the behavioral repertoire of RHex, a compliant leg hexapod robot. We introduce two new controllers, one for climbing constant slope inclinations and one for achieving higher speeds via pronking, a gait that incorporates a, substantial aerial phase. In both cases, we make use of an underlying open-loop control strategy, combined with low bandwidth feedback to modulate its parameters. The inclination behavior arises from our initial alternating tripod walking controller and adjusts the angle offsets of individual leg motion profiles based on inertial sensing of the average surface slope. Similarly, the pronking controller makes use of a “virtual” leg touchdown sensing mechanism to adjust the frequency of the open-loop pronking, effectively synchronizing the controller with the natural oscillations of the mechanical system. Experimental results demonstrate good performance on slopes inclined up to /spl sim/250 and pronking up to speeds approaching 2 body lengths per second (/spl sim/1.0 m/s).