Humans and animals adapt their leg impedance during running for both internal (e.g., loading) and external (e.g., surface) changes. To date, the mechanical complexity of designing usefully robust tunable passive compliance into legs has precluded their implementation on practical running robots. This work describes the design of novel, structure-controlled stiffness legs for a hexapedal running robot to enable runtime modification of leg stiffness in a small, lightweight, and rugged package. As part of this investigation, we also study the effect of varying leg stiffness on the performance of a dynamical running robot.
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