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Safe Fall Control for Humanoid Robots

Humanoid robots are expected to share human environments in the future and it is important to ensure safety of their operation. The fall of a humanoid robot can be disastrous as it can seriously damage both the robot and the objects in its surroundings. If the fall is inevitable, then the humanoid robot must have a fall control strategy that will minimize damage to the surrounding objects and/or minimize damage to the robot. This work focuses on developing humanoid fall control strategies that change the direction of fall such that the falling robot avoids hitting the surrounding objects and falls in a safe region. In this work, a novel planning and control framework was developed to control humanoid fall direction in the presence of multiple objects. The planner evaluates a list of control strategies and selects the best strategy that results in the "safest" estimated direction of fall. The control strategies including foot placement, whole body inertia shaping and partial body inertia shaping. The foot placement strategy changes the support base geometry, thereby changing the position and orientation of the leading tipping edge. The inertia shaping procedures use either all the joints or a subset of them to generate angular momentum in the desired fall direction. The fall planner is also able to select "No Action" as the best strategy, if appropriate. The fall performance is continuously tracked and can be improved in real-time. The effectiveness of this algorithm was demonstrated in simulation on an ASIMO-like humanoid robot for a variety of different cases.

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Related Publications

Direction-Changing Fall Control in Humanoid Robots: Theory and Experiments
Ambarish Goswami, Seung-kook Yun, Umashankar Nagarajan, Sung-Hee Lee, KangKang Yin and Shivaram Kalyanakrishnan
Autonomous Robots (AURO), Volume 36, Issue 3, pp. 199 - 223, March 2014

Generalized Direction Changing Fall Control of Humanoid Robots among Multiple Objects
Umashankar Nagarajan and Ambarish Goswami
IEEE International Conference on Robotics & Automation (ICRA), pp. 3316 - 3322, May 2010
IEEEXplore | PDF

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