Improved startup shutdown kinematics

Back when I was getting Super Mega Microbot “Junior” ready for Maker Fair Bay Area 2019, I made it minimally self sufficient through a quick hack of adding some PVC pipe that allowed it to manipulate its feet into a known good position while the robot was safely up in the air.

This worked, but had a number of obvious disadvantages.  For one, it looked ugly!  Second, the machine couldn’t squat down very far before getting stranded on the “resting legs”.  I’ve finally gotten around to doing at least a first attempt at something better!

The basic problem is that normal gaits result in having the feet positioned under the robot.  Then, if you want to sit down, you can’t do it because your feet are in the way.  What I’ve done for now is have the robot take some steps to widen its stance so that the feet are out of the way, then sit down.  Standing up is the inverse.  First the feet are positioned in the widened stance, lowered until the machine is at the correct height, then some steps are taken to get into the normal walking gait stance.

At this point, even this is somewhat of a hack, because the gait generation code is only minimally modified from what I had back in 2014.  When it gets modernized, this standing up procedure will need to be re-implemented, but for now this will let me both lose the ugliness, and experiment with things like bigger jumps.

Enjoy seeing it do its thing in the video below:

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