under review for IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 2021. Pdf Video abstract bibtex 24 downloads
The additional degrees of freedom and missing counterparts in nature make designing locomotion capabilities for wheeled-legged robots more challenging. We propose a whole-body model predictive controller as a single task formulation that simultaneously optimizes wheel and torso motions. Due to the real-time joint velocity and ground reaction force optimization based on a kinodynamic model, our approach accurately captures the real robot's dynamics and automatically discovers complex and dynamic motions cumbersome to hand-craft through heuristics. Thanks to the single set of parameters for all behaviors, whole-body optimization makes online gait sequence adaptation possible. Aperiodic gait sequences are automatically found through kinematic leg utilities without the need for predefined contact and lift-off timings. Also, this enables us to reduce the cost of transport of wheeled-legged robots significantly. Our experiments demonstrate highly dynamic motions on a quadrupedal robot with non-steerable wheels in challenging indoor and outdoor environments. Herewith, we verify that a single task formulation is key to reveal the full potential of wheeled-legged robots.