The bio-inspired, six-legged walking robot LAURON was developed at the FZI (Research Center for Information Technology) in Karlsruhe, Germany, with the target to test and enhance statically stable walking in difficult and rough terrain. The department Interactive Diagnosis and Servicesystems began their first theoretical analysis and design studies on six-legged walking in the early 90s. In 1994 the first walking robot LAURON (Legged AUtonomous RObot Neural Controlled) was presented to the public at the CeBIT in Hannover, Germany.
In the first years our research focused on the walking process itself, especially in rough and difficult terrain. We have continuously been improving the control software and the mechatronics of LAURON since the first LAURON generation. The current generation, LAURON V, was finished in 2013 and first exhibited at IEEE ICRA in Karlsruhe. Present work deals with bio-inspired gait analysis, navigation strategies, robot autonomy, manipulation with its front legs, energy-efficient walking.
The mechanical design of the walking robot LAURON is biologically-inspired by the stick insect. Like this insect, our robot has 6 legs fixed to a central body with an inner aluminium skeleton, which holds the necessary electronics. Each of the 6 legs is actuated by 4 joints. Additionally, the head can be moved in 2 directions (roll, pitch) giving Lauron an overall amount of 26 degrees of freedom.
LAURON is equipped with several sensor systems. Each leg is equipped with a 3D force sensor and a spring-damper system. In conjunction with our motor current measurements these two components are used to detect collisions and the legs' ground contact. The orientation and position of the robot are measured with an inertial measurement unit and a GPS-sensor. Two camera systems, a stereo camera and a IR-camera mounted on the head, provide information about the surroundings of the robot. A small rotational 3D-lasersacnner can be mounted on the back of the robot and supplements the camera data with detailed depth information. The joint angles are measured by high precision optical encoders. Additionally, each motor is equipped with a high resolution encoder that also provides the current joint angle.
The movements of the 6 legs and the head are controlled with custom made UCoMs (Universal Controller Module). Each of these 9 UCoMS (8 for the legs and one for the head) has its own DSP and FPGA. A CAN bus system connects all seven UCoMs to each other and to the embedded control computer (Mini-ITX PC system). Besides, running a PWM based motor controller, the UCoMs are used to read out numerous sensors (3d force sensor, optical encoder, etc.).
The control software of LAURON is organized in hierarchical layers. The lowest layer is the hardware oriented UCOM layer, which is executed by the DSP. It uses a PID controller with joint velocity feedback to move the joints to the desired angles. The joint angles are generated from a given trajectory in the layer above the UCOM layer, the HAL (Hardware-Abstraction-Layer). The HAL is implemented in the MCA2-Framework and is executed by the on-board computer system, which is carried inside the central body. Aside from the kinematics, the sensor data is pre-processed here. Above this layer we have implemented the main robot controller. The behaviour-based control system generates trajectories for the legs, coordinates the gaits and calculates the stabilizing movements of the central body. Similar as the HAL, this behaviour-based control is implemented in the MCA2-Framework.
Because of its robust hardware, adaptable behaviour-based control and the numerous sensor systems the walking robot LAURON is the best choice for inspection and service tasks in rough and unstructured terrain and areas inaccessible or hazardous to humans. Such tasks could include sweeping of landmines, exploration of volcanoes or search and rescue tasks in the wake of natural disasters.
Gallery of Walking Robot LAURON
Walking Robot LAURON V at Taranis 2013
LAURON IVc walks in Rough Terrain
Dipl.-Ing. Arne Rönnau
Arne Rönnau studierte von 2002 bis 2008 Elektrotechnik und Informationstechnik an der Universität Karlsruhe (TH). Die Schwerpunkte des Studiums lagen in den Bereichen der Regelungs- und Steuerungstechnik sowie Robotik. Seine Diplomarbeit befasste sich mit der Steuerung und 3D-Umweltmodellierung für den sechsbeinigen Laufroboter LAURON. Diese führte er in Kooperation mit der Technischen Universität Karlsruhe in der Abteilung Interaktive Diagnose- und Servicesysteme (IDS) am Forschungszentrum Informatik (FZI) durch. Seit November 2008 ist er wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter in der Abteilung IDS und arbeitet an der Optimierung von technischen Laufvorgängen (Laufroboter LAURON), 3D-Datenerfasssung und Umweltmodellierung sowie der Entwicklung innovativer Serviceroboter.
Seit April 2011 leitet er die Abteilung Interaktive Diagnose- und Servicesysteme (IDS).
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