Single-Leg Forward Hopping via Nonlinear Modes

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Implementing dynamic legged locomotion entails stabilizing oscillatory behaviors in complex mechanical systems. Whenever possible, locomotion algorithms should also exploit the improved capabilities of elastic elements added to the structure to improve efficiency and robustness. This work aims to shed some light on implementing generic dynamic locomotion by stabilizing nonlinear modes. The nonlinear modal analysis extends the linear modal theory to nonlinear systems and thus characterizes the oscillations that a robot can execute as autonomous evolutions. We execute forward hopping motions with a single segmented elastic leg as the first step towards generic modal locomotion. We propose a locomotion algorithm that exploits the modes of an extension of the SLIP model. We develop this strategy to generalize to other robotic systems, and we extensively validate it with experiments on an elastically actuated segmented leg.