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Effective Viscous Damping Enables Morphological Computation in Legged Locomotion




Muscle models and animal observations suggest that physical damping is beneficial for stabilization. Still, only a few implementations of mechanical damping exist in compliant robotic legged locomotion. It remains unclear how physical damping can be exploited for locomotion tasks, while its advantages as sensor-free, adaptive force- and negative work-producing actuators are promising. In a simplified numerical leg model, we studied the energy dissipation from viscous and Coulomb damping during vertical drops with ground-level perturbations. A parallel spring-damper is engaged between touch-down and mid-stance, and its damper auto-disengages during mid-stance and takeoff. Our simulations indicate that an adjustable and viscous damper is desired. In hardware we explored effective viscous damping and adjustability and quantified the dissipated energy. We tested two mechanical, leg-mounted damping mechanisms; a commercial hydraulic damper, and a custom-made pneumatic damper. The pneumatic damper exploits a rolling diaphragm with an adjustable orifice, minimizing Coulomb damping effects while permitting adjustable resistance. Experimental results show that the leg-mounted, hydraulic damper exhibits the most effective viscous damping. Adjusting the orifice setting did not result in substantial changes of dissipated energy per drop, unlike adjusting damping parameters in the numerical model. Consequently, we also emphasize the importance of characterizing physical dampers during real legged impacts to evaluate their effectiveness for compliant legged locomotion.

Author(s): An Mo and Fabio Izzi and Daniel F. B. Haeufle and Alexander Badri-Spröwitz
Journal: Frontiers Robots and Ai
Volume: 7:110
Year: 2020
Month: August
Day: 28 August 2020

Department(s): Dynamic Locomotion
Bibtex Type: Article (article)
Paper Type: Journal

Digital: True
DOI: 10.3389/frobt.2020.00110
State: Published
URL: https://arxiv.org/abs/2005.05725

Links: Youtube


  title = {Effective Viscous Damping Enables Morphological Computation in Legged Locomotion},
  author = {Mo, An and Izzi, Fabio and Haeufle, Daniel F. B. and Badri-Spr{\"o}witz, Alexander},
  journal = {Frontiers Robots and Ai},
  volume = {7:110},
  month = aug,
  year = {2020},
  url = {https://arxiv.org/abs/2005.05725},
  month_numeric = {8}