Equip quadruped robot with “the strongest brain” (Innovation story)


Imagine a scene like this: the factory is in urgent need of closing the valve due to explosion and fire caused by gas leakage. However, some roads on the site have been blocked and there are many obstacles, so there are great risks for firefighters to carry out fire fighting operations. At the critical moment, the quadruped robot stepped forward and quickly “observed” the surrounding environment through sensors to identify the passable area. Through “thinking” to judge whether the obstacles in front can be crossed, find the best route, construct the real-time environmental map at the same time, find the valve in a very short time, and successfully complete the disaster relief task.

Recently, such a quadruped robot intelligent sensing system has made a breakthrough in the group intelligent sensing innovation center of the second Department of the second Academy of Aerospace Science and engineering of China. It can realize the function of autonomous positioning and map construction based on visual scheme, and can construct a map of 1000 square meters in 60 seconds, with a high level of intelligence and practicality. With this set of intelligent perception system, the quadruped robot is just like being equipped with a pair of “intelligent eyes” and a “strongest brain”. It has the ability of “seeing six ways and adapting to circumstances”. It is no longer a problem for it to go up and down stairs and avoid obstacles.

According to team leader Guo Rui, climbing stairs and crossing obstacles are behaviors that traditional wheeled robots can’t do, while quadruped robots can easily cope with such complex terrain, which has great application potential in actual scenes such as exploration and rescue. The intelligent perception system built by the team is to endow the quadruped robot with the ability of “observation” and “planning and thinking”. The team has many years of research foundation in related core technologies, and the on-board intelligent sensing system previously developed has been implemented in port unmanned vehicles, intelligent networked vehicles and other scenarios.

The flexible motion mode of quadruped robot makes its fuselage fluctuate and vibrate violently. This high dynamic environment will greatly reduce the imaging effect of the visual sensing system carried by the robot, which brings great challenges to the research of sensing technology.

To solve this problem, the research team, relying on key technologies such as autonomous and controllable deep learning algorithm, smart chip, slam (synchronous positioning and map construction), proposes a low-cost multi-mode fusion intelligent sensing system scheme, which can realize the functions of autonomous positioning and 3D semantic map construction in the high dynamic environment with violent fluctuation and vibration of the fuselage, and the real-time composition can reach 20 per second The resolution of the constructed map reaches centimeter level.

Guo Rui said that the intelligent sensing system can improve the intelligent and practical level of the quadruped robot, and help the quadruped robot in some dangerous scenes. The team will continue to deepen the research on intelligent sensing system in the fields of unmanned vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles and intelligent robots, promote mass production and application of products, and help equipment intellectualization.


People’s daily (February 1, 2021, 19th edition)

(editor in chief: Yang Guangyu)