Next Steps: Learning a Disentangled Gait Representation for Versatile Quadruped Locomotion

Recommended citation: Alexander Luis Mitchell, Wolfgang Merkt, Mathieu Geisert, Siddhant Gangapurwala, Martin Engelcke, Oiwi Parker Jones, Ioannis Havoutis, and Ingmar Posner. Next Steps: Learning a Disentangled Gait Representation for Versatile Quadruped Locomotion. Proc. IEEE International Conf. on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2022.

Quadruped locomotion is rapidly maturing to a degree where robots now routinely traverse a variety of unstructured terrains. However, while gaits can be varied typically by selecting from a range of pre-computed styles, current planners are unable to vary key gait parameters continuously while the robot is in motion. The synthesis, on-the-fly, of gaits with unexpected operational characteristics or even the blending of dynamic manoeuvres lies beyond the capabilities of the current state-of-the-art. In this work we address this limitation by learning a latent space capturing the key stance phases of a particular gait, via a generative model trained on a single trot style. This encourages disentanglement such that application of a drive signal to a single dimension of the latent state induces holistic plans synthesising a continuous variety of trot styles. In fact properties of this drive signal map directly to gait parameters such as cadence, footstep height and full stance duration. The use of a generative model facilitates the detection and mitigation of disturbances to provide a versatile and robust planning framework. We evaluate our approach on a real ANYmal quadruped robot and demonstrate that our method achieves a continuous blend of dynamic trot styles whilst being robust and reactive to external perturbations.

[ video] [ arXiv]

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