Frontiers in Robotics and AI (Aug 2021)

NSPG: An Efficient Posture Generator Based on Null-Space Alteration and Kinetostatics Constraints

  • Luca Rossini,
  • Luca Rossini,
  • Enrico Mingo Hoffman,
  • Arturo Laurenzi,
  • Nikos G. Tsagarakis

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8


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Most of the locomotion and contact planners for multi-limbed robots rely on a reduction of the search space to improve the performance of their algorithm. Posture generation plays a fundamental role in these types of planners providing a collision-free, statically stable whole-body posture, projected onto the planned contacts. However, posture generation becomes particularly tedious for complex robots moving in cluttered environments, in which feasibility can be hard to accomplish. In this work, we take advantage of the kinematic structure of a multi-limbed robot to present a posture generator based on hierarchical inverse kinematics and contact force optimization, called the null-space posture generator (NSPG), able to efficiently satisfy the aforementioned requisites in short times. A new configuration of the robot is produced through conservatively altering a given nominal posture exploiting the null-space of the contact manifold, satisfying geometrical and kinetostatics constraints. This is achieved through an adaptive random velocity vector generator that lets the robot explore its workspace. To prove the validity and generality of the proposed method, simulations in multiple scenarios are reported employing different robots: a wheeled-legged quadruped and a biped. Specifically, it is shown that the NSPG is particularly suited in complex cluttered scenarios, in which linear collision avoidance and stability constraints may be inefficient due to the high computational cost. In particular, we show an improvement of performances being our method able to generate twice feasible configurations in the same period. A comparison with previous methods has been carried out collecting the obtained results which highlight the benefits of the NSPG. Finally, experiments with the CENTAURO platform, developed at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, are carried out showing the applicability of the proposed method to a real corridor scenario.