One giant leap for the mini cheetah

Asia's Tech News Daily

A new control system, demonstrated using MIT’s robotic mini cheetah, enables four-legged robots to jump across uneven terrain in real-time.

Robots, Machine learning, Artificial intelligence, Mechanical engineering, Robotics, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (eecs), Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS), School of Engineering, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, neural network

MIT researchers have developed a system that improves the speed and agility of legged robots as they jump across gaps in the terrain. Photo courtesy of the researchers

Robots, Machine learning, Artificial intelligence, Mechanical engineering, Robotics, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (eecs), Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS), School of Engineering, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, neural network

From left to right: PhD students Tao Chen and Gabriel Margolis; Pulkit Agrawal, the Steven G. and Renee Finn Career Development Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; and PhD student Xiang Fu. Photo courtesy of the researchers

A loping cheetah dashes across a rolling field, bounding over sudden gaps in the rugged terrain. The movement may look effortless, but getting a robot to move this way is an altogether different prospect.

In recent years, four-legged robots inspired by the movement of cheetahs and other animals have made great leaps forward, yet they still lag behind their mammalian counterparts when it comes to traveling across a landscape with rapid elevation changes.

“In those settings, you need to use vision in order to avoid failure. For example, stepping in a gap is difficult to avoid if you can’t see it. Although there are some existing methods for incorporating vision into legged locomotion, most of them aren’t really suitable for use with emerging agile robotic systems,” says Gabriel Margolis, a PhD student in the lab of Pulkit Agrawal, professor in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT.

Now, Margolis and his collaborators have developed a system that improves the speed and agility of legged robots as they jump across gaps in the terrain. The novel control system is split into two parts — one that processes real-time input from a video camera mounted on the front of the robot and another that translates that information into instructions for how the robot should move its body. The researchers tested their system on the MIT mini cheetah, a powerful, agile robot built in the lab of Sangbae Kim, professor of mechanical engineering.

Unlike other methods for controlling a four-legged robot, this two-part system does not require the terrain to be mapped in advance, so the robot can go anywhere. In the future, this could enable robots to charge off into the woods on an emergency response mission or climb a flight of stairs to deliver medication to an elderly shut-in.

Margolis wrote the paper with senior author Pulkit Agrawal, who heads the Improbable AI lab at MIT and is the Steven G. and Renee Finn Career Development Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Professor Sangbae Kim in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT; and fellow graduate students Tao Chen and Xiang Fu at MIT. Other co-authors include Kartik Paigwar, a graduate student at Arizona State University; and Donghyun Kim, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The work will be presented next month at the Conference on Robot Learning.

It’s all under control

The use of two separate controllers working together makes this system especially innovative.

A controller is an algorithm that will convert the robot’s state into a set of actions for it to follow. Many blind controllers — those that do not incorporate vision — are robust and effective but only enable robots to walk over continuous terrain.

Vision is such a complex sensory input to process that these algorithms are unable to handle it efficiently. Systems that do incorporate vision usually rely on a “heightmap” of the terrain, which must be either preconstructed or generated on the fly, a process that is typically slow and prone to failure if the heightmap is incorrect.

To develop their system, the researchers took the best elements from these robust, blind controllers and combined them with a separate module that handles vision in real-time.

The robot’s camera captures depth images of the upcoming terrain, which are fed to a high-level controller along with information about the state of the robot’s body (joint angles, body orientation, etc.). The high-level controller is a neural network that “learns” from experience.

That neural network outputs a target trajectory, which the second controller uses to come up with torques for each of the robot’s 12 joints. This low-level controller is not a neural network and instead relies on a set of concise, physical equations that describe the robot’s motion.

“The hierarchy, including the use of this low-level controller, enables us to constrain the robot’s behavior so it is more well-behaved. With this low-level controller, we are using well-specified models that we can impose constraints on, which isn’t usually possible in a learning-based network,” Margolis says.

Teaching the network

The researchers used the trial-and-error method known as reinforcement learning to train the high-level controller. They conducted simulations of the robot running across hundreds of different discontinuous terrains and rewarded it for successful crossings.

Over time, the algorithm learned which actions maximized the reward.

Then they built a physical, gapped terrain with a set of wooden planks and put their control scheme to the test using the mini cheetah.

“It was definitely fun to work with a robot that was designed in-house at MIT by some of our collaborators. The mini cheetah is a great platform because it is modular and made mostly from parts that you can order online, so if we wanted a new battery or camera, it was just a simple matter of ordering it from a regular supplier and, with a little bit of help from Sangbae’s lab, installing it,” Margolis says.

Estimating the robot’s state proved to be a challenge in some cases. Unlike in simulation, real-world sensors encounter noise that can accumulate and affect the outcome. So, for some experiments that involved high-precision foot placement, the researchers used a motion capture system to measure the robot’s true position.

Their system outperformed others that only use one controller, and the mini cheetah successfully crossed 90 percent of the terrains.

“One novelty of our system is that it does adjust the robot’s gait. If a human were trying to leap across a really wide gap, they might start by running really fast to build up speed and then they might put both feet together to have a really powerful leap across the gap. In the same way, our robot can adjust the timings and duration of its foot contacts to better traverse the terrain,” Margolis says.

Leaping out of the lab

While the researchers were able to demonstrate that their control scheme works in a laboratory, they still have a long way to go before they can deploy the system in the real world, Margolis says.

In the future, they hope to mount a more powerful computer to the robot so it can do all its computation on board. They also want to improve the robot’s state estimator to eliminate the need for the motion capture system. In addition, they’d like to improve the low-level controller so it can exploit the robot’s full range of motion, and enhance the high-level controller so it works well in different lighting conditions.

“It is remarkable to witness the flexibility of machine learning techniques capable of bypassing carefully designed intermediate processes (e.g. state estimation and trajectory planning) that centuries-old model-based techniques have relied on,” Kim says. “I am excited about the future of mobile robots with more robust vision processing trained specifically for locomotion.”

The research is supported, in part, by the MIT’s Improbable AI Lab, Biomimetic Robotics Laboratory, NAVER LABS, and the DARPA Machine Common Sense Program.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Reintroducing masks in England may be met with resistance – here's how the government can overcome it

Richard M Lee/Shutterstock There are fears that the new omicron variant of the coronavirus could be the most transmissible form of the virus yet, so infection control measures are being ... Read more »

Elon Musk says SpaceX is building a launch pad for Starship orbital flights on Florida's eastern coastline

SpaceX‘s Starship and CEO Elon Musk.SpaceX; Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images SpaceX has started building a launch pad in Florida for Starship rocket flights, Elon Musk said. It will have a better ... Read more »

These Are The Last Christmas Posting Dates For 2021

(Photo: Sergio Amiti via Getty Images) The festive lights have been turned on and the mince pies are out in full force, which means one thing: it’s time to send ... Read more »

Euro 2020 and sea shanties among TikTok's highlights of the year

Cats, sea shanties and Euro 2020 were among the biggest trends on TikTok in the UK during 2021, according to figures from the video-sharing platform. The social media giant’s annual ... Read more »

Looking for a holiday gift? The new Nintendo Switch is 'worth the upgrade' — plus more hot tech finds from Best Buy

Looking for more of the best deals, sales and product recommendations? Sign up for Yahoo Lifestyle Canada’s newsletter! Shoppers say the Nintendo Switch OLED Model is “worth the upgrade.” Yahoo ... Read more »

Boris Johnson's fondness for ‘10 year strategies' risks reminding voters of what the Tories have not achieved

When Boris Johnson launched his Tory manifesto in a soulless conference centre in Telford in 2019, I remember being struck by the time frame of his pitch to the voters. ... Read more »

Fauci says early data on the Omicron variant is 'encouraging' but we don't yet truly know how deadly it is

Dr. Anthony Fauci.AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that South Africa's initial data on Omicron is “a bit encouraging.” However, the top US medical doctor said ... Read more »

Elon Musk 'is making the rules' in space with rapid expansion of SpaceX's Starlink internet service, agency boss says

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.Pool Elon Musk is “making the rules” in space, European Space Agency boss told the Financial Times. The ESA boss urged European countries to stop enabling Musk ... Read more »

Why the UK shouldn't introduce mandatory COVID vaccination

As coronavirus infections surge across Europe, and with the threat of the omicron variant looming, countries are imposing increasingly stringent pandemic controls. In Austria, citizens will be subject to a ... Read more »

Biotech star BenevolentAI floats in Europe's biggest SPAC takeover

(BenevolentAI) British biotech star BenevolentAI today said it remains committed to the UK after being taken public with a £1.3 billion valuation in Amsterdam via Europe’s biggest ever healthcare SPAC ... Read more »

Astronomers decode why our Solar System is shaped like a croissant

BU-led scientists say the protective bubble around the solar system is shaped like a croissant (Image courtesy of Opher, et. al) Hydrogen particles slamming into the Solar System from outside ... Read more »

Does vaping really damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer?

Vapers experience DNA changes, according to a recent paper published in Nature, and the changes are similar to those seen in smokers – although much less pronounced. Crucially, this evidence ... Read more »

One in four colds is likely down to COVID, expert warns

Boris Johnson will review current COVID-19 measures on 18 December. (PA Images) One in four colds is likely down to people having coronavirus, an expert has said. Tim Spector, a ... Read more »

Johnson: We need to invest in rehab to help drug users

Boris Johnson says “everybody who knows about drugs crime will tell you” there needs to be more investment in rehab to drive down crime. He argues, however, that the government ... Read more »

I'm a Celebrity: Snoochie Shy opens up about revealing her birthmark for the first time

The radio presenter said she used to cover up her birthmark with make-up but feels more like herself for revealing it. Read more »

Oura ring review: Does the celeb-favourite activity tracker live up the hype?

We considered its tracking ability, how comfortable it was to wear and the app’s features (The Independent) Since hitting the smart tech market a few years ago, Oura’s health tracker ... Read more »

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: Father and stepmum sat in hot tub while boy left in hallway for hours

The case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes has shocked the nation. (PA) The killers of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes relaxed in a hot tub while the six-year-old boy was left alone for hours, it ... Read more »

Astrophotographer snaps his 'clearest ever photo of the SUN', revealing swirls and feather-type patterns on the solar surface

Photographer Andrew McCarthy layered 150,000 individual pictures of the sun to create the imageThe resulting photo is an enormous 300 megapixels - 30 times bigger than a standard imageIn its most close-up view, swirls and feather-type patterns can be seen alongside black hole formations Read more »

Man, 38, finds tooth in his NOSE in rare case of an 'ectopic tooth' that was affecting his ability to breathe

A 38-year-old man was discovered to have a tooth in his nose by doctors at New York City's Mount Sinai hospital The man went for treatment after years of having trouble breathing out of his right nostrilAn initial examination discovered that he had a deviated septum, and a rhinoscopy found the protruding toothSurgery was performed to remove the tooth, and three months later the man told doctors his breathing problems had gone awayEntopic teeth are rare, appearing in less than 1% of the population, though health officials warn that patients should get them treated when discovered  Read more »

Little change in gender pay gap over past 25 years, study finds

Office workers The gender pay gap has seen “barely any change” over the past 25 years once increases in women's education are accounted for, a report has said. The Institute ... Read more »

Samsung Galaxy tab S7 FE review: Can this affordable tablet rival Apple's iPad?

We tested for ease of set up, speed and responsiveness in everyday use (iStock/The Independent) When choosing a tablet, you’ll have to make a few decisions. What size screen are ... Read more »

F1 news LIVE: Max Verstappen penalised as Lewis Hamilton accuses rival of going too far in Saudi Arabia

Follow all the latest F1 news and reaction after Lewis Hamilton won a chaotic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to draw level with Max Verstappen in the standings with only one ... Read more »

Users face removal of passports and driving licences under Boris Johnson's new 10-year drugs plan

Harsher punishments to deter drug use, including the removal of passports and driving licences, night-time curfews and travel bans like those imposed on football hooligans, will form part of a ... Read more »

British teenager attacked by 10ft crocodile describes relief at not losing leg

Amele Osborn-Smith, 18, from Andover, Hampshire, spoke from hospital in Zambia, where she’s recovering from a crocodile bite while white-water rafting near Victoria Falls. Read more »

PS5 UK stock - live: PlayStation Direct restock is set to drop this morning – how to get a console

PS5 UK stock – live: PlayStation Direct restock is set to drop this morning – how to get a console UPDATE: The PS5 is set to drop at PlayStation Direct ... Read more »

Xbox series X UK stock - live: Who could restock Microsoft's console today?

We’re expecting more restocks at major UK retailers soon (The Independent) The Xbox series X is Microsoft’s fastest-selling console, but despite its apparent success the next-generation games machine is still ... Read more »

On This Day: When will we know if there's life on Mars?

Gullies on the wall of the Terra Sirenum crater (Photo by NASA/JPL/MSSS/Getty Images) This article is part of Yahoo's 'On This Day' series. When astronomer Percival Lowell spotted what he ... Read more »

Starwatch: Jupiter, Saturn and Venus chart the moon's movement

Jupiter and Saturn will showcase the moon’s phases with Venus providing additional markers along the way starwatch 6/12/21 This week we can again take advantage of Jupiter and Saturn’s placement ... Read more »

Two hippos at Belgian zoo test positive for Covid in first for species

Hippos Imani, 14 and Hermien, 41 at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium have tested positive for Covid-19 (Antwerp Zoo/Jonas Verhulst) Two hippos at the Antwerp zoo in Belgium have tested ... Read more »

Taking some of the guesswork out of drug discovery

A deep learning model rapidly predicts the 3D shapes of drug-like molecules, which could accelerate the process of discovering new medicines. Read more »

China ‘modified' the weather to create clear skies for political celebration – study

Researchers say Beijing used cloud-seeding to create artificial rain and lower pollution in July, in latest example of ‘blueskying’ efforts Chinese weather authorities successfully controlled the weather ahead of a ... Read more »

3D-printed suicide capsules are now legal in Switzerland

Dutch designer Alexander Bannink explains how the “Sarco” euthanasia pod works as a woman experiences sitting in the device by wearing virtual reality glasses, on April 14, 2018 at the ... Read more »

Seahawks hold on late for wild 30-23 win over 49ers

1/1049ers Seahawks FootballSeattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson looks to pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Seattle. ... Read more »

Study shows men spread COVID particles more than women and children

Fort Collins, Colorado – A study focused on tracking the spread of COVID-19 in performing arts settings has also unveiled the population of humans who spread the most COVID-19 particles. ... Read more »

SenseTime launches Hong Kong IPO to raise up to $767 million -term sheet

Artificial intelligence (AI) startup SenseTime offices in Hong Kong By Kane Wu and Scott Murdoch HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese artificial intelligence startup SenseTime Group is looking to raise up ... Read more »

Liquid hydrogen aircraft plan for zero carbon transatlantic flights

A liquid hydrogen-powered plane is being developed in an attempt to operate non-stop zero carbon transatlantic flights. The midsize aircraft is being designed to carry 279 passengers at the same ... Read more »

Lil Nas X Embodies His Own Positive Light in This White Bandage Top and Suit

Lil Nas X was presented with the 2021 Innovator of the Year award at the Variety Hitmakers event by his good friend Chloe Bailey. When she took the stage to ... Read more »

In corporations' race to go carbon neutral, forest credits explode in popularity

This article was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigations Network. In the forests of Guatemala, China and Scotland, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell is planting tens of ... Read more »

US embassy officials in Uganda had their phones hacked with Israeli spyware, reports say

US embassy officials in Uganda had their phones hacked with Israeli spyware, reports say US diplomatic staff in Uganda had their iPhones hacked using controversial spyware sold by the Israeli ... Read more »

Storm Barra: Severe weather warnings for wind and snow as thousands remain without power

A second storm is set to hit the UK Tuesday while thousands of households are still waiting to be reconnected to power supplies following Storm Arwen, the Met Office has ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic