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Towards compliant humanoids-an experimental assessment of suitable task space position/orientation controllers

Jun Nakanishi; Michael N. Mistry; Jan Peters; Stefan Schaal
In: 2007 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS-2007), October 29 - November 2, San Diego, California, USA, Pages 2520-2527, IEEE, 2007.


Compliant control will be a prerequisite for humanoid robotics if these robots are supposed to work safely and robustly in human and/or dynamic environments. One view of compliant control is that a robot should control a minimal number of degrees-of-freedom (DOFs) directly, i.e., those relevant DOFs for the task, and keep the remaining DOFs maximally compliant, usually in the null space of the task. This view naturally leads to task space control. However, surprisingly few implementations of task space control can be found in actual humanoid robots. This paper makes a first step towards assessing the usefulness of task space controllers for humanoids by investigating which choices of controllers are available and what inherent control characteristics they have - this treatment will concern position and orientation control, where the latter is based on a quaternion formulation. Empirical evaluations on an anthropomorphic Sarcos master arm illustrate the robustness of the different controllers as well as the ease of implementing and tuning them. Our extensive empirical results demonstrate that simpler task space controllers, e.g., classical resolved motion rate control or resolved acceleration control can be quite advantageous in face of inevitable modeling errors in model- based control, and that well chosen formulations are easy to implement and quite robust, such that they are useful for humanoids.

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