Practical bipedal robots need to be simultaneously efficient, robust, and versatile machines, but designing robots dynamically capable of these demands has been a significant bottleneck. We designed ATRIAS to be a highly dynamic biped capable of both walking and running untethered in real environments. To meet these goals, ATRIAS is designed to approximate dynamically capable locomotion template, i.e. the spring-mass model. We enumerate the challenges of this template-driven design approach and our solutions to make ATRIAS a real-world-viable human-scale machine. We show that ATRIAS exhibits behaviors predicted by spring-mass models in fulfillment of our design approach. Particularly, ATRIAS reproduces the characteristic ground-reaction forces of human walking and running, a key dynamical feature of spring-mass locomotion. We also demonstrate ATRIAS' capacity to walk, hop on one leg, bound like a spring-mass hopper, and recover from an unseen plunge into a 6.5-inch-deep gravel pit. Further, by building efficient spring-mass dynamics into the mechanical system, ATRIAS, when pushed, walks several steps without its actuators replenishing lost mechanical energy. These combined hardware experiments validate ATRIAS' capability as a platform for spring-mass robot controllers and for agile and economical locomotion in general.
This thesis is the combination of two journal papers that focus on the ATRIAS robot that focus on statements in the above paragraph. It also includes a summary of the objectives and considerations that went into the design, manufacture and testing phases of the robots. This includes the project deliverables and deadlines, methods for building these robots, control theory considerations for ATRIAS, engineering objectives and questions addressed by this work.