Locomorph’s main objective is to apply the concept of morphology and morphosis to achieve efficient and robust robotic locomotion and movements, in particular, with increased self-stabilization, energy efficiency, maneuverability, and adaptivity to unknown environment. Toward this general goal, we will investigate the following list of sub-objectives.
Objective 1 (Morphology):
To explore various morphological factors (e.g. shape, mass distribution, compliance, limb segmentation, etc.) to generate novel and optimal robotic designs, by addressing the following sub-goals:
- To develop a wide range of modular heterogeneous components (e.g. legs and trunk/torso components with different shapes and materials, elastic elements, sensors, actuators with variable compliance, etc.) to allow fast construction of robots with varying morphology and interesting natural dynamics.
- To develop an infrastructure for sharing robotic components and enabling efficient collaboration in develop a series of robots with varying morphology at multiple laboratories.
- To co-investigate the optimal robot’s morphology for efficient and robust locomotion and control strategies which exploit the natural dynamics generated by the robot’s morphology.
- To conduct three demonstrations throughout the project to exhibit and evaluate progress. The first two demonstrations will show the results of the first two steps of the morphology exploration: 1) gait versatility, self-stability and energy efficiency, 2) maneuverability and integration of discrete movements. The third (final) demonstration will show the project’s integrated results, including robotic morphosis capabilities.
Objective 2 (Morphosis):
To extend the concept of exploiting morphology further by investigating morphing, i.e. changing morphology, by addressing the following sub-goals:
- To conduct experiments and examine 3D kinematics, dynamics, intra- and inter-limb coordination, and detailed morphometric information, in order to examine nature’s strategy for effective morphology and morphosis in lacertid lizards, primates, and humans.
- To generate biomechanical models based on the experimental results (validated using a reduced dimension robot) and use them to generate a computer simulation which can synthesize gaits, change in pedality, and alternative movement strategies.
- To extract insights from the experimental results to develop design and motor control strategies for effective robotic morphosis, i.e. robots with the capability to voluntarily morph (self-adjust their own morphology, e.g. lengthen/contract limbs, adjust compliance, actuate trunk for overall shape morphing, etc) during runtime in order to adapt to current task demands and environments.