This paper presents design and experimental evaluations of an articulated robotic limb called Capler-Leg. The key element of Capler-Leg is its single-stage cable-pulley transmission combined with a high-gap radius motor. Our cable-pulley system is designed to be as light-weight as possible and to additionally serve as the primary cooling element, thus significantly increasing the power density and efficiency of the overall system. The total weight of active elements on the leg, i.e. the stators and the rotors, contribute more than 60% of the total leg weight, which is an order of magnitude higher than most existing robots. The resulting robotic leg has low inertia, high torque transparency, low manufacturing cost, no backlash, and a low number of parts. Capler-Leg system itself, serves as an experimental setup for evaluating the proposed cable- pulley design in terms of robustness and efficiency. A continuous jump experiment shows a remarkable 96.5 % recuperation rate, measured at the battery output. This means that almost all the mechanical energy output used during push-off returned back to the battery during touch-down.

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Legged robots pose one of the greatest challenges in robotics. Dynamic and agile maneuvers of animals cannot be imitated by existing methods that are crafted by humans. A compelling alternative is reinforcement learning, which requires minimal craftsmanship and promotes the natural evolution of a control policy. However, so far, reinforcement learning research for legged robots is mainly limited to simulation, and only few and comparably simple examples have been deployed on real systems. The primary reason is that training with real robots, particularly with dynamically balancing systems, is complicated and expensive. In the present work, we introduce a method for training a neural network policy in simulation and transferring it to a state-of-the-art legged system, thereby leveraging fast, automated, and cost-effective data generation schemes. The approach is applied to the ANYmal robot, a sophisticated medium-dog-sized quadrupedal system. Using policies trained in simulation, the quadrupedal machine achieves locomotion skills that go beyond what had been achieved with prior methods: ANYmal is capable of precisely and energy-efficiently following high-level body velocity commands, running faster than before, and recovering from falling even in complex configurations.

* Science Robotics 4.26 (2019): eaau5872
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