Neural Gaits: Learning Bipedal Locomotion via Control Barrier Functions and Zero Dynamics Policies
Proceedings of The 4th Annual Learning for Dynamics and Control Conference, PMLR 168:1060-1072, 2022.
This work presents Neural Gaits, a method for learning dynamic walking gaits through the enforcement of set invariance that can be refined episodically using experimental data from the robot. We first frame walking as a set invariance problem enforceable via control barrier functions (CBFs) defined on the reduced-order dynamics quantifying the underactuated component of the robot: the zero dynamics. Our approach contains two learning modules: one for learning a policy that satisfies the CBF condition, and another for learning a residual dynamics model to refine imperfections of the nominal model. Importantly, learning only over the zero dynamics significantly reduces the dimensionality of the learning problem while using CBFs allows us to still make guarantees for the full-order system. Finally, the applicability of the method is demonstrated experimentally on an underactuated bipedal robot, where we are able to show agile and dynamic locomotion, even with partially unknown dynamics.