Simultaneous Contact, Gait and Motion Planning for Robust Multi-Legged Locomotion via Mixed-Integer Convex Optimization

Traditional motion planning approaches for multi-legged locomotion divide the problem into several stages, such as contact search and trajectory generation. However, reasoning about contacts and motions simultaneously is crucial for the generation of complex whole-body behaviors. Currently, coupling theses problems has required either the assumption of a fixed gait sequence and flat terrain condition, or non-convex optimization with intractable computation time. In this paper, we propose a mixed-integer convex formulation to plan simultaneously contact locations, gait transitions and motion, in a computationally efficient fashion. In contrast to previous works, our approach is not limited to flat terrain nor to a pre-specified gait sequence. Instead, we incorporate the friction cone stability margin, approximate the robot's torque limits, and plan the gait using mixed-integer convex constraints. We experimentally validated our approach on the HyQ robot by traversing different challenging terrains, where non-convexity and flat terrain assumptions might lead to sub-optimal or unstable plans. Our method increases the motion generality while keeping a low computation time.

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