First steps, or you know, just falling down

For a couple of months now, I have been hatching an idea about researching and developing four-legged, quadruped, robots. During Christmas break, I came a cross the idea of the sustainability of mobile robots, especially their energy efficiency. It is important to note that there is a three-way trade-off between energy efficiency, travel speed and robustness of locomotion. If you have a wheeled mobile robot that can move 30 km/h, it probably has problems climbing up snowed stairs. On the other hand, a four legged robot can most likely climb those stairs robustly and smoothly, however, the challenge is then improving energy efficiency (kWh/km) and speed of travelling (km/h).

After some background research (very limited, just this one paper), I couldn’t wait to get started. So, I made a model in Gazebo based on the basic tutorials. I managed to create links (=solids) and joints (=linking the solids). Based on these skills, I managed to make this four legged robot that kind of looks like a dog made out of wooden planks. Hence the name, PlankDoge. I was hoping to get it standing at least, but the best I can do is to “release it” by letting go of the static hold (=no gravity). The PlankDoge just falls down lifelessly.

Next, the goal is to get the robot standing still. Then, crouching, jumping and finally walking. After learning about how to implement these controls I can start experimenting and exploring on different kind of designs that are most likely inspired from animals, which is called biomimicry.

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