Tripod Fall: Concept and Experiments of a Novel Approach to Humanoid Robot Fall Damage Reduction


Yun, S.-k., & Goswami, A. (2014, 31 May – 7 June). Tripod fall: Concept and experiments of a novel approach to humanoid robot fall damage reduction. Paper presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA’14), Hong Kong, China.


This paper addresses a new control strategy to reduce the damage to a humanoid robot during a fall. Instead of following the traditional approach of finding a favorable configuration with which to fall to the ground, this method attempts to stop the robot from falling all the way to the ground. This prevents the full transfer of the robot’s potential energy to kinetic energy, and consequently results in a milder impact. The controlled motion of the falling robot involves a sequence of three deliberate contacts to the ground with the swing foot and two hands, in that order. In the final configuration the robot’s center of mass (CoM) remains relatively high from the floor and the robot has a relatively stable three-point contact with the ground; hence the name tripod fall. The optimal location of the three contacts are learned through reinforcement learning algorithm. The controller is simulated on a full size humanoid, and experimentally tested on the NAO humanoid robot. In this work we apply our fall controller only to a forward fall.

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