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A simple running model with rolling contact and its role as a template for dynamic locomotion on a hexapod robot.


We report on the development of a robot's dynamic locomotion based on a template which fits the robot's natural dynamics. The developed template is a low degree-of-freedom planar model for running with rolling contact, which we call rolling spring loaded inverted pendulum (R-SLIP). Originating from a reduced-order model of the RHex-style robot with compliant circular legs, the R-SLIP model also acts as the template for general dynamic running. The model has a torsional spring and a large circular arc as the distributed foot, so during locomotion it rolls on the ground with varied equivalent linear stiffness. This differs from the well-known spring loaded inverted pendulum (SLIP) model with fixed stiffness and ground contact points. Through dimensionless steps-to-fall and return map analysis, within a wide range of parameter spaces, the R-SLIP model is revealed to have self-stable gaits and a larger stability region than that of the SLIP model. The R-SLIP model is then embedded as the reduced-order 'template' in a more complex 'anchor', the RHex-style robot, via various mapping definitions between the template and the anchor. Experimental validation confirms that by merely deploying the stable running gaits of the R-SLIP model on the empirical robot with simple open-loop control strategy, the robot can easily initiate its dynamic running behaviors with a flight phase and can move with similar body state profiles to those of the model, in all five testing speeds. The robot, embedded with the SLIP model but performing walking locomotion, further confirms the importance of finding an adequate template of the robot for dynamic locomotion.