Siravuru Avinash1 Suril V Shah1 K Madhava Krishna1
This paper discusses the development of an optimal wheel torque controller for a compliant modular robot. The wheel actuators are the only actively controllable elements in this robot. For this type of robots, wheel-slip could offer a lot of hindrance while traversing on uneven terrains. Therefore, an effective wheel-torque controller is desired that will also improve the wheel-odometry and minimize power consumption. In this work, an optimal wheel-torque controller is proposed that minimizes the traction-to-normal force ratios of all the wheels at every instant of its motion. This ensures that, at every wheel, the least traction force per unit normal force is applied to maintain static stability and desired wheel speed. The lower this is, in comparison to the actual friction coefficient of the wheel-ground interface, the more margin of slip-free motion the robot can have. This formalism best exploits the redundancy offered by a modularly designed robot. This is the key novelty of this work. Extensive numerical and experimental studies were carried out to validate this controller. The robot was tested on four different surfaces and we report an overall average slip reduction of 44 % and mean wheel-torque reduction by 16 %.