Humanoid and wheeled-legged controllers in C++ and Python: balancing at different frequencies

Talk given at the Humanoids 2022 Tutorial on Challenge-driven Learning of Humanoid Robot Control in Virtual Environments, 28 November 2022.

Abstract

The physics of a task dictate how fast a controller should run to perform it. Balancing, in particular, is a rather low-frequency task: it was demonstrated (in theory and on real hardware) that a DCM-based controller can balance an adult-size humanoid while running at only 10 Hz. In this talk, we will discuss how this property allows us to write more control-critical code in a high-level language like Python. We will illustrate our points with practical sub-modules from two controllers: the LIPM walking controller for HRP humanoids, implemented with mc_rtc, and the Pink controller for the Upkie wheeled-biped, implemented with Vulp (🦊).

Content

pdf Slides
github Python code from the slides
github Motion control software for the Upkie wheeled biped

Discussion

Thanks to all those who have contributed to the conversation so far. Feel free to leave a reply using the form below, or subscribe to the  Discussion's atom feed to stay tuned.

  • Avatar

    Yuichi Tazaki

    Posted on

    Does Vulp run on Windows? This would be helpful when setting up a teaching environment for students.

    • Avatar

      Stéphane

      Posted on

      Currently Vulp only supports Linux for x86 and ARM architectures, which is Upkie's use case. We can add Windows support to the roadmap: #3.

      Note however that Vulp targets mostly researchers, research engineers, or PhD students. It may have some rough edges for students earlier in the learning curve.

  • Avatar

    Takumi Kamioka

    Posted on

    This question is about balancing as a low-frequency task (slide 26 about this work). Isn't this result assuming continuous-time control at some stage?

    • Avatar

      Stéphane

      Posted on

      We indeed need to specify what is discretized exactly. In this analysis, the continuous-time DCM dynamics are discretized with sampling time δt\def\LdG{\dot{L}_G} \def\Ld{\dot{L}} \def\bfA{\boldsymbol{A}} \def\bfB{\boldsymbol{B}} \def\bfC{\boldsymbol{C}} \def\bfD{\boldsymbol{D}} \def\bfE{\boldsymbol{E}} \def\bfF{\boldsymbol{F}} \def\bfG{\boldsymbol{G}} \def\bfH{\boldsymbol{H}} \def\bfI{\boldsymbol{I}} \def\bfJ{\boldsymbol{J}} \def\bfK{\boldsymbol{K}} \def\bfL{\boldsymbol{L}} \def\bfM{\boldsymbol{M}} \def\bfN{\boldsymbol{N}} \def\bfO{\boldsymbol{O}} \def\bfP{\boldsymbol{P}} \def\bfQ{\boldsymbol{Q}} \def\bfR{\boldsymbol{R}} \def\bfS{\boldsymbol{S}} \def\bfT{\boldsymbol{T}} \def\bfU{\boldsymbol{U}} \def\bfV{\boldsymbol{V}} \def\bfW{\boldsymbol{W}} \def\bfX{\boldsymbol{X}} \def\bfY{\boldsymbol{Y}} \def\bfZ{\boldsymbol{Z}} \def\bfalpha{\boldsymbol{\alpha}} \def\bfa{\boldsymbol{a}} \def\bfbeta{\boldsymbol{\beta}} \def\bfb{\boldsymbol{b}} \def\bfcd{\dot{\bfc}} \def\bfchi{\boldsymbol{\chi}} \def\bfc{\boldsymbol{c}} \def\bfd{\boldsymbol{d}} \def\bfe{\boldsymbol{e}} \def\bff{\boldsymbol{f}} \def\bfgamma{\boldsymbol{\gamma}} \def\bfg{\boldsymbol{g}} \def\bfh{\boldsymbol{h}} \def\bfi{\boldsymbol{i}} \def\bfj{\boldsymbol{j}} \def\bfk{\boldsymbol{k}} \def\bflambda{\boldsymbol{\lambda}} \def\bfl{\boldsymbol{l}} \def\bfm{\boldsymbol{m}} \def\bfn{\boldsymbol{n}} \def\bfomega{\boldsymbol{\omega}} \def\bfone{\boldsymbol{1}} \def\bfo{\boldsymbol{o}} \def\bfpdd{\ddot{\bfp}} \def\bfpd{\dot{\bfp}} \def\bfphi{\boldsymbol{\phi}} \def\bfp{\boldsymbol{p}} \def\bfq{\boldsymbol{q}} \def\bfr{\boldsymbol{r}} \def\bfsigma{\boldsymbol{\sigma}} \def\bfs{\boldsymbol{s}} \def\bftau{\boldsymbol{\tau}} \def\bft{\boldsymbol{t}} \def\bfu{\boldsymbol{u}} \def\bfv{\boldsymbol{v}} \def\bfw{\boldsymbol{w}} \def\bfxi{\boldsymbol{\xi}} \def\bfx{\boldsymbol{x}} \def\bfy{\boldsymbol{y}} \def\bfzero{\boldsymbol{0}} \def\bfz{\boldsymbol{z}} \def\calA{\mathcal{A}} \def\calB{\mathcal{B}} \def\calC{\mathcal{C}} \def\calD{\mathcal{D}} \def\calE{\mathcal{E}} \def\calF{\mathcal{F}} \def\calG{\mathcal{G}} \def\calH{\mathcal{H}} \def\calI{\mathcal{I}} \def\calJ{\mathcal{J}} \def\calK{\mathcal{K}} \def\calL{\mathcal{L}} \def\calM{\mathcal{M}} \def\calN{\mathcal{N}} \def\calO{\mathcal{O}} \def\calP{\mathcal{P}} \def\calQ{\mathcal{Q}} \def\calR{\mathcal{R}} \def\calS{\mathcal{S}} \def\calT{\mathcal{T}} \def\calU{\mathcal{U}} \def\calV{\mathcal{V}} \def\calW{\mathcal{W}} \def\calX{\mathcal{X}} \def\calY{\mathcal{Y}} \def\calZ{\mathcal{Z}} \def\d#1{{\rm d}{#1}} \def\defeq{\stackrel{\mathrm{def}}{=}} \def\dim{\rm dim} \def\p{\boldsymbol{p}} \def\qdd{\ddot{\bfq}} \def\qd{\dot{\bfq}} \def\q{\boldsymbol{q}} \def\xdd{\ddot{x}} \def\xd{\dot{x}} \def\ydd{\ddot{y}} \def\yd{\dot{y}} \def\zdd{\ddot{z}} \def\zd{\dot{z}} \delta t. Meanwhile, force control is assumed to run in an underlying continuous process, but its outcome (e.g. delay) is lumped in a ZMP tracking error at the next sampling time.

    • Avatar

      Yuichi Tazaki

      Posted on

      I have a follow-up question: does this work consider the distance from the ZMP to the edge of its support area?

      It seems the maximum sampling period would become smaller as this distance shrinks.

      • Avatar

        Stéphane

        Posted on

        Indeed, this analysis does not consider the distance to the edge of the support area.

        I agree with you that the maximum sampling period should be affected by the position of the ZMP within its support area.

  • Avatar

    Yuki Onishi

    Posted on

    You mentioned Rust and Julia. Do you have plans to extend Vulp to these languages?

    • Avatar

      Stéphane

      Posted on

      Vulp being a protocol, it is open to implementation in either Rust or Julia. Rust has proper safety guarantees compared to C++, and Julia performs faster than Python with roughly the same level of abstraction—although, regarding this last point, we saw in this presentation that the current performance of Python is already sufficient for many balancing use cases. Personally I'm interested in Rust's guarantees and type system.

      • Avatar

        Yuki Onishi

        Posted on

        That's good to hear! I contribute to OpenRR, the Open Rust Robotics platform. You should check it out.

        • Avatar

          Stéphane

          Posted on

          👍

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