Science fiction has long promised a world of robotic possibilities: from humanoid robots in the home, to wearable robotic devices that restore and augment human capabilities, to swarms of autonomous robotic systems forming the backbone of the cities of the future, to robots enabling exploration of the cosmos. With the goal of ultimately achieving these capabilities on robotic systems, this talk will present a unified optimization-based control framework for realizing dynamic behaviors in an efficient, provably stable (via control Lyapunov functions) and safety-critical fashion (as guaranteed by control barrier functions). The application of these ideas will be demonstrated experimentally on a wide variety of robotic systems, including swarms of rolling and flying robots with guaranteed collision-free behavior, bipedal and humanoid robots capable of achieving dynamic walking and running behaviors that display the hallmarks of natural human locomotion, and robotic assistive devices aimed at restoring mobility. The ideas presented will be framed in the broader context of seeking autonomy on robotic systems with the goal of getting robots into the real-world.
Aaron Ames runs the Advanced Mobility Laboratory (AMBER Lab) as part of the Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, the Department of Computing and Mathematical Science and Caltech’s Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies (CAST). In the AMBER Lab he and his students hand-build and test bipedal robots and prosthetic limbs along with creating the theory and designing the algorithms that govern how they walk. The goal is to achieve human-like robotic walking and translate that capability to robotic assistive devices as well as robots that can explore environments not accessible to humans—including Mars and beyond. Ames earned his undergraduate degrees from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and his MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2010, he received the National Science Foundation CAREER award for his research on bipedal robotic walking and its applications to prosthetic devices. He also received the 2015 Donald P. Eckman Award, which recognizes an outstanding young engineer in the field of automatic control. For more information about Ames’s research and publications, visit bipedalrobotics.com.