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Coordinated appendages accumulate more energy to self-right on the ground

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Document pages: 9 pages

Abstract: Animals and robots must right themselves after flipping over on the ground.The discoid cockroach pushes its wings against the ground in an attempt todynamically self-right by a somersault. However, because this maneuver isstrenuous, the animal often fails to overcome the potential energy barrier andmakes continual attempts. In this process, the animal flails its legs, whoselateral perturbation eventually leads it to roll to the side to self-right. Ourprevious work developed a cockroach-inspired robot capable of leg-assisted,winged self-righting, and a robot simulation study revealed that the outcome ofthis strategy depends sensitively on wing-leg coordination (measured by thephase between their motions). Here, we further elucidate why this is the caseby developing a template to model the complex hybrid dynamics resulting fromdiscontinuous contact and actuation. We used the template to calculate thepotential energy barrier that the body must overcome to self-right, mechanicalenergy contribution by wing pushing and leg flailing, and mechanical energydissipation due to wing-ground collision. The template revealed that wing-legcoordination (phase) strongly affects self-righting outcome by changingmechanical energy budget. Well-coordinated appendage motions (good phase)accumulate more mechanical energy than poorly-coordinated motions (bad phase),thereby better overcoming the potential energy barrier to self-right moresuccessfully. Finally, we demonstrated practical use of the template forpredicting a new control strategy to further increase self-righting performanceand informing robot design.

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