Models, code, and papers for "Jonas Buchli":

A Projection Approach to Equality Constrained Iterative Linear Quadratic Optimal Control

May 23, 2018
Markus Giftthaler, Jonas Buchli

This paper presents a state and state-input constrained variant of the discrete-time iterative Linear Quadratic Regulator (iLQR) algorithm, with linear time-complexity in the number of time steps. The approach is based on a projection of the control input onto the nullspace of the linearized constraints. We derive a fully constraint-compliant feedforward-feedback control update rule, for which we can solve efficiently with Riccati-style difference equations. We assume that the relative degree of all constraints in the discrete-time system model is equal to one, which often holds for robotics problems employing rigid-body dynamic models. Simulation examples, including a 6 DoF robotic arm, are given to validate and illustrate the performance of the method.

* 2017 IEEE-RAS 17th International Conference on Humanoid Robotics (Humanoids) 
* Corrected version, fixes a typo in Eq. (11)-(12) 

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An Open Source, Fiducial Based, Visual-Inertial Motion Capture System

Jun 13, 2016
Michael Neunert, Michael Bloesch, Jonas Buchli

Many robotic tasks rely on the accurate localization of moving objects within a given workspace. This information about the objects' poses and velocities are used for control,motion planning, navigation, interaction with the environment or verification. Often motion capture systems are used to obtain such a state estimate. However, these systems are often costly, limited in workspace size and not suitable for outdoor usage. Therefore, we propose a lightweight and easy to use, visual-inertial Simultaneous Localization and Mapping approach that leverages cost-efficient, paper printable artificial landmarks, socalled fiducials. Results show that by fusing visual and inertial data, the system provides accurate estimates and is robust against fast motions and changing lighting conditions. Tight integration of the estimation of sensor and fiducial pose as well as extrinsics ensures accuracy, map consistency and avoids the requirement for precalibration. By providing an open source implementation and various datasets, partially with ground truth information, we enable community members to run, test, modify and extend the system either using these datasets or directly running the system on their own robotic setups.

* To appear in The International Conference on Information Fusion (FUSION) 2016 

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Nonlinear disturbance attenuation control of hydraulic robotics

Aug 04, 2018
Peng Lu, Timothy Sandy, Jonas Buchli

This paper presents a novel nonlinear disturbance rejection control for hydraulic robots. This method requires two third-order filters as well as inverse dynamics in order to estimate the disturbances. All the parameters for the third-order filters are pre-defined. The proposed method is nonlinear, which does not require the linearization of the rigid body dynamics. The estimated disturbances are used by the nonlinear controller in order to achieve disturbance attenuation. The performance of the proposed approach is compared with existing approaches. Finally, the tracking performance and robustness of the proposed approach is validated extensively on real hardware by performing different tasks under either internal or both internal and external disturbances. The experimental results demonstrate the robustness and superior tracking performance of the proposed approach.


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The Control Toolbox - An Open-Source C++ Library for Robotics, Optimal and Model Predictive Control

Mar 26, 2018
Markus Giftthaler, Michael Neunert, Markus Stäuble, Jonas Buchli

We introduce the Control Toolbox (CT), an open-source C++ library for efficient modeling, control, estimation, trajectory optimization and Model Predictive Control. The CT is applicable to a broad class of dynamic systems but features interfaces to modeling tools specifically designed for robotic applications. This paper outlines the general concept of the toolbox, its main building blocks, and highlights selected application examples. The library contains several tools to design and evaluate controllers, model dynamical systems and solve optimal control problems. The CT was designed for intuitive modeling of systems governed by ordinary differential or difference equations. It supports rapid prototyping of cost functions and constraints and provides standard interfaces for different optimal control solvers. To date, we support Single Shooting, the iterative Linear-Quadratic Regulator, Gauss-Newton Multiple Shooting and classical Direct Multiple Shooting. We provide interfaces to general purpose NLP solvers and Riccati-based linear-quadratic optimal control solvers. The CT was designed to solve large-scale optimal control and estimation problems efficiently and allows for online control of dynamic systems. Some of the key features to enable fast run-time performance are full compatibility with Automatic Differentiation, derivative code generation, and multi-threading. Still, the CT is designed as a modular framework whose building blocks can also be used for other control and estimation applications such as inverse dynamics control, extended Kalman filters or kinematic planning.


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A Domain Specific Language for kinematic models and fast implementations of robot dynamics algorithms

Jan 30, 2013
Marco Frigerio, Jonas Buchli, Darwin G. Caldwell

Rigid body dynamics algorithms play a crucial role in several components of a robot controller and simulations. Real time constraints in high frequency control loops and time requirements of specific applications demand these functions to be very efficient. Despite the availability of established algorithms, their efficient implementation for a specific robot still is a tedious and error-prone task. However, these components are simply necessary to get high performance controllers. To achieve efficient yet well maintainable implementations of dynamics algorithms we propose to use a domain specific language to describe the kinematics/dynamics model of a robot. Since the algorithms are parameterized on this model, executable code tailored for a specific robot can be generated, thanks to the facilities available for \dsls. This approach allows the users to deal only with the high level description of their robot and relieves them from problematic hand-crafted development; resources and efforts can then be focused on open research questions. Preliminary results about the generation of efficient code for inverse dynamics will be presented as a proof of concept of this approach.

* Presented at DSLRob 2011 (arXiv:1212.3308) 

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ConFusion: Sensor Fusion for Complex Robotic Systems using Nonlinear Optimization

Mar 01, 2019
Timothy Sandy, Lukas Stadelmann, Simon Kerscher, Jonas Buchli

We present ConFusion, an open-source package for online sensor fusion for robotic applications. ConFusion is a modular framework for fusing measurements from many heterogeneous sensors within a moving horizon estimator. ConFusion offers greater flexibility in sensor fusion problem design than filtering-based systems and the ability to scale the online estimate quality with the available computing power. We demonstrate its performance in comparison to an iterated extended Kalman filter in visual-inertial tracking, and show its versatility through whole-body sensor fusion on a mobile manipulator.

* IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 2019, Volume 4, Number 2, Pages 1093-1100 

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A Family of Iterative Gauss-Newton Shooting Methods for Nonlinear Optimal Control

Dec 11, 2017
Markus Giftthaler, Michael Neunert, Markus Stäuble, Jonas Buchli, Moritz Diehl

This paper introduces a family of iterative algorithms for unconstrained nonlinear optimal control. We generalize the well-known iLQR algorithm to different multiple-shooting variants, combining advantages like straight-forward initialization and a closed-loop forward integration. All algorithms have similar computational complexity, i.e. linear complexity in the time horizon, and can be derived in the same computational framework. We compare the full-step variants of our algorithms and present several simulation examples, including a high-dimensional underactuated robot subject to contact switches. Simulation results show that our multiple-shooting algorithms can achieve faster convergence, better local contraction rates and much shorter runtimes than classical iLQR, which makes them a superior choice for nonlinear model predictive control applications.

* 8 pages 

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Robust Whole-Body Motion Control of Legged Robots

Mar 07, 2017
Farbod Farshidian, Edo Jelavić, Alexander W. Winkler, Jonas Buchli

We introduce a robust control architecture for the whole-body motion control of torque controlled robots with arms and legs. The method is based on the robust control of contact forces in order to track a planned Center of Mass trajectory. Its appeal lies in the ability to guarantee robust stability and performance despite rigid body model mismatch, actuator dynamics, delays, contact surface stiffness, and unobserved ground profiles. Furthermore, we introduce a task space decomposition approach which removes the coupling effects between contact force controller and the other non-contact controllers. Finally, we verify our control performance on a quadruped robot and compare its performance to a standard inverse dynamics approach on hardware.

* 8 Pages 

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Trajectory Optimization Through Contacts and Automatic Gait Discovery for Quadrupeds

Jul 15, 2016
Michael Neunert, Farbod Farshidian, Alexander W. Winkler, Jonas Buchli

In this work we present a trajectory Optimization framework for whole-body motion planning through contacts. We demonstrate how the proposed approach can be applied to automatically discover different gaits and dynamic motions on a quadruped robot. In contrast to most previous methods, we do not pre-specify contact switches, timings, points or gait patterns, but they are a direct outcome of the optimization. Furthermore, we optimize over the entire dynamics of the robot, which enables the optimizer to fully leverage the capabilities of the robot. To illustrate the spectrum of achievable motions, here we show eight different tasks, which would require very different control structures when solved with state-of-the-art methods. Using our trajectory Optimization approach, we are solving each task with a simple, high level cost function and without any changes in the control structure. Furthermore, we fully integrated our approach with the robot's control and estimation framework such that optimization can be run online. By demonstrating a rough manipulation task with multiple dynamic contact switches, we exemplarily show how optimized trajectories and control inputs can be directly applied to hardware.

* Video: https://youtu.be/sILuqJBsyKs 

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Projection based whole body motion planning for legged robots

Oct 06, 2015
Diego Pardo, Michael Neunert, Alexander W. Winkler, Jonas Buchli

In this paper we present a new approach for dynamic motion planning for legged robots. We formulate a trajectory optimization problem based on a compact form of the robot dynamics. Such a form is obtained by projecting the rigid body dynamics onto the null space of the Constraint Jacobian. As consequence of the projection, contact forces are removed from the model but their effects are still taken into account. This approach permits to solve the optimal control problem of a floating base constrained multibody system while avoiding the use of an explicit contact model. We use direct transcription to numerically solve the optimization. As the contact forces are not part of the decision variables the size of the resultant discrete mathematical program is reduced and therefore solutions can be obtained in a tractable time. Using a predefined sequence of contact configurations (phases), our approach solves motions where contact switches occur. Transitions between phases are automatically resolved without using a model for switching dynamics. We present results on a hydraulic quadruped robot (HyQ), including single phase (standing, crouching) as well as multiple phase (rearing, diagonal leg balancing and stepping) dynamic motions.


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Efficient Kinematic Planning for Mobile Manipulators with Non-holonomic Constraints Using Optimal Control

Jan 16, 2018
Markus Giftthaler, Farbod Farshidian, Timothy Sandy, Lukas Stadelmann, Jonas Buchli

This work addresses the problem of kinematic trajectory planning for mobile manipulators with non-holonomic constraints, and holonomic operational-space tracking constraints. We obtain whole-body trajectories and time-varying kinematic feedback controllers by solving a Constrained Sequential Linear Quadratic Optimal Control problem. The employed algorithm features high efficiency through a continuous-time formulation that benefits from adaptive step-size integrators and through linear complexity in the number of integration steps. In a first application example, we solve kinematic trajectory planning problems for a 26 DoF wheeled robot. In a second example, we apply Constrained SLQ to a real-world mobile manipulator in a receding-horizon optimal control fashion, where we obtain optimal controllers and plans at rates up to 100 Hz.

* 7 pages 

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Real-Time Motion Planning of Legged Robots: A Model Predictive Control Approach

Oct 11, 2017
Farbod Farshidian, Edo Jelavić, Asutosh Satapathy, Markus Giftthaler, Jonas Buchli

We introduce a real-time, constrained, nonlinear Model Predictive Control for the motion planning of legged robots. The proposed approach uses a constrained optimal control algorithm known as SLQ. We improve the efficiency of this algorithm by introducing a multi-processing scheme for estimating value function in its backward pass. This pass has been often calculated as a single process. This parallel SLQ algorithm can optimize longer time horizons without proportional increase in its computation time. Thus, our MPC algorithm can generate optimized trajectories for the next few phases of the motion within only a few milliseconds. This outperforms the state of the art by at least one order of magnitude. The performance of the approach is validated on a quadruped robot for generating dynamic gaits such as trotting.

* 8 pages 

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Optimal and Learning Control for Autonomous Robots

Aug 30, 2017
Jonas Buchli, Farbod Farshidian, Alexander Winkler, Timothy Sandy, Markus Giftthaler

Optimal and Learning Control for Autonomous Robots has been taught in the Robotics, Systems and Controls Masters at ETH Zurich with the aim to teach optimal control and reinforcement learning for closed loop control problems from a unified point of view. The starting point is the formulation of of an optimal control problem and deriving the different types of solutions and algorithms from there. These lecture notes aim at supporting this unified view with a unified notation wherever possible, and a bit of a translation help to compare the terminology and notation in the different fields. The course assumes basic knowledge of Control Theory, Linear Algebra and Stochastic Calculus.

* Lecture Notes, 101 pages 

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Automatic Differentiation of Rigid Body Dynamics for Optimal Control and Estimation

Jan 16, 2018
Markus Giftthaler, Michael Neunert, Markus Stäuble, Marco Frigerio, Claudio Semini, Jonas Buchli

Many algorithms for control, optimization and estimation in robotics depend on derivatives of the underlying system dynamics, e.g. to compute linearizations, sensitivities or gradient directions. However, we show that when dealing with Rigid Body Dynamics, these derivatives are difficult to derive analytically and to implement efficiently. To overcome this issue, we extend the modelling tool `RobCoGen' to be compatible with Automatic Differentiation. Additionally, we propose how to automatically obtain the derivatives and generate highly efficient source code. We highlight the flexibility and performance of the approach in two application examples. First, we show a Trajectory Optimization example for the quadrupedal robot HyQ, which employs auto-differentiation on the dynamics including a contact model. Second, we present a hardware experiment in which a 6 DoF robotic arm avoids a randomly moving obstacle in a go-to task by fast, dynamic replanning.

* Advanced Robotics, November 2017, Taylor and Francis 

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Fast Trajectory Optimization for Legged Robots using Vertex-based ZMP Constraints

May 27, 2017
Alexander W Winkler, Farbod Farshidian, Diego Pardo, Michael Neunert, Jonas Buchli

This paper combines the fast Zero-Moment-Point (ZMP) approaches that work well in practice with the broader range of capabilities of a Trajectory Optimization formulation, by optimizing over body motion, footholds and Center of Pressure simultaneously. We introduce a vertex-based representation of the support-area constraint, which can treat arbitrarily oriented point-, line-, and area-contacts uniformly. This generalization allows us to create motions such quadrupedal walking, trotting, bounding, pacing, combinations and transitions between these, limping, bipedal walking and push-recovery all with the same approach. This formulation constitutes a minimal representation of the physical laws (unilateral contact forces) and kinematic restrictions (range of motion) in legged locomotion, which allows us to generate various motion in less than a second. We demonstrate the feasibility of the generated motions on a real quadruped robot.

* currently under review for IEEE RA-L 

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An Efficient Optimal Planning and Control Framework For Quadrupedal Locomotion

Mar 04, 2017
Farbod Farshidian, Michael Neunert, Alexander W. Winkler, Gonzalo Rey, Jonas Buchli

In this paper, we present an efficient Dynamic Programing framework for optimal planning and control of legged robots. First we formulate this problem as an optimal control problem for switched systems. Then we propose a multi--level optimization approach to find the optimal switching times and the optimal continuous control inputs. Through this scheme, the decomposed optimization can potentially be done more efficiently than the combined approach. Finally, we present a continuous-time constrained LQR algorithm which simultaneously optimizes the feedforward and feedback controller with $O(n)$ time-complexity. In order to validate our approach, we show the performance of our framework on a quadrupedal robot. We choose the Center of Mass dynamics and the full kinematic formulation as the switched system model where the switching times as well as the contact forces and the joint velocities are optimized for different locomotion tasks such as gap crossing, walking and trotting.

* 8 Pages 

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Evaluating direct transcription and nonlinear optimization methods for robot motion planning

Jan 29, 2016
Diego Pardo, Lukas Möller, Michael Neunert, Alexander W. Winkler, Jonas Buchli

This paper studies existing direct transcription methods for trajectory optimization applied to robot motion planning. There are diverse alternatives for the implementation of direct transcription. In this study we analyze the effects of such alternatives when solving a robotics problem. Different parameters such as integration scheme, number of discretization nodes, initialization strategies and complexity of the problem are evaluated. We measure the performance of the methods in terms of computational time, accuracy and quality of the solution. Additionally, we compare two optimization methodologies frequently used to solve the transcribed problem, namely Sequential Quadratic Programming (SQP) and Interior Point Method (IPM). As a benchmark, we solve different motion tasks on an underactuated and non-minimal-phase ball-balancing robot with a 10 dimensional state space and 3 dimensional input space. Additionally, we validate the results on a simulated 3D quadrotor. Finally, as a verification of using direct transcription methods for trajectory optimization on real robots, we present hardware experiments on a motion task including path constraints and actuation limits.


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Value constrained model-free continuous control

Feb 12, 2019
Steven Bohez, Abbas Abdolmaleki, Michael Neunert, Jonas Buchli, Nicolas Heess, Raia Hadsell

The naive application of Reinforcement Learning algorithms to continuous control problems -- such as locomotion and manipulation -- often results in policies which rely on high-amplitude, high-frequency control signals, known colloquially as bang-bang control. Although such solutions may indeed maximize task reward, they can be unsuitable for real world systems. Bang-bang control may lead to increased wear and tear or energy consumption, and tends to excite undesired second-order dynamics. To counteract this issue, multi-objective optimization can be used to simultaneously optimize both the reward and some auxiliary cost that discourages undesired (e.g. high-amplitude) control. In principle, such an approach can yield the sought after, smooth, control policies. It can, however, be hard to find the correct trade-off between cost and return that results in the desired behavior. In this paper we propose a new constraint-based reinforcement learning approach that ensures task success while minimizing one or more auxiliary costs (such as control effort). We employ Lagrangian relaxation to learn both (a) the parameters of a control policy that satisfies the desired constraints and (b) the Lagrangian multipliers for the optimization. Moreover, we demonstrate that we can satisfy constraints either in expectation or in a per-step fashion, and can even learn a single policy that is able to dynamically trade-off between return and cost. We demonstrate the efficacy of our approach using a number of continuous control benchmark tasks, a realistic, energy-optimized quadruped locomotion task, as well as a reaching task on a real robot arm.


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Whole-Body Nonlinear Model Predictive Control Through Contacts for Quadrupeds

Dec 07, 2017
Michael Neunert, Markus Stäuble, Markus Giftthaler, Carmine D. Bellicoso, Jan Carius, Christian Gehring, Marco Hutter, Jonas Buchli

In this work we present a whole-body Nonlinear Model Predictive Control approach for Rigid Body Systems subject to contacts. We use a full dynamic system model which also includes explicit contact dynamics. Therefore, contact locations, sequences and timings are not prespecified but optimized by the solver. Yet, thorough numerical and software engineering allows for running the nonlinear Optimal Control solver at rates up to 190 Hz on a quadruped for a time horizon of half a second. This outperforms the state of the art by at least one order of magnitude. Hardware experiments in form of periodic and non-periodic tasks are applied to two quadrupeds with different actuation systems. The obtained results underline the performance, transferability and robustness of the approach.

* Submitted to "Robotics and Automation: Letters" / "International Conference on Robotics and Automation 2018" 

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Robot Impedance Control and Passivity Analysis with Inner Torque and Velocity Feedback Loops

May 23, 2016
Michele Focchi, Gustavo A. Medrano-Cerda, Thiago Boaventura, Marco Frigerio, Jonas Buchli, Darwin G. Caldwell, Claudio Semini

Impedance control is a well-established technique to control interaction forces in robotics. However, real implementations of impedance control with an inner loop may suffer from several limitations. Although common practice in designing nested control systems is to maximize the bandwidth of the inner loop to improve tracking performance, it may not be the most suitable approach when a certain range of impedance parameters has to be rendered. In particular, it turns out that the viable range of stable stiffness and damping values can be strongly affected by the bandwidth of the inner control loops (e.g. a torque loop) as well as by the filtering and sampling frequency. This paper provides an extensive analysis on how these aspects influence the stability region of impedance parameters as well as the passivity of the system. This will be supported by both simulations and experimental data. Moreover, a methodology for designing joint impedance controllers based on an inner torque loop and a positive velocity feedback loop will be presented. The goal of the velocity feedback is to increase (given the constraints to preserve stability) the bandwidth of the torque loop without the need of a complex controller.

* 14 pages in Control Theory and Technology (2016) 

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