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I'm using OpenRAVE to simulate a quadruped, in order to get an idea of torque requirements.

To get started I made a single DOF, single link pendulum to test controllers etc out on. I've whipped up an inverse dynamics based PD controller using ComputeInverseDynamics(), which I set the outputs using SetDOFTorques(). I then set a desired position, with the desired velocity being zero. This all appears to work well and I can start the simulation, with the pendulum driving up to the desired position and settling. My concern is the value of the output torques. My pendulum is modeled as a simple box of length 1, mass manually set to 1, with a COM of 0.5. When I run my simulation, I output the gravity component from ComputeInverseDynamics(). This gives 4.9NM, which matches up with hand calculated torques I expect from the pendulum (eg the static case) when it is driven to the desired position (from down to horizontal). But the output torques to SetDOFTorques() are much higher and vary depending what I set the simulation timestep to. If I maintain a controller update rate of 0.001 seconds, then for a simulation update of 0.0001 seconds, my output torque is approximately 87NM. If I alter the simulation timestep to 0.0005 seconds, keeping the controller rate the same the output torques drop down to about 18NM.

As an experiment I removed the inverse dynamics controller and replaced it with a plain PD controller, but I still see large output torques.

Can anyone shed some light on this? It's very possible I'm missing something here!

Thanks very much

Edits: I'm adding the main section of my code. There is no trajectory generation, really. I'm just trying to get to a fixed static position. In the code, if I keep dt fixed, and alter env.StartSimulation(timestep=0.0001), I get the issues popping up.

with env:
    robot = env.GetRobots()[0]
    robot.GetLinks()[0].SetStatic(True)
    env.StopSimulation()
    env.StartSimulation(timestep=0.0001)

dt = 0.001
w = 100
eta = 5
Kp = [w*w]
Kv = [2*eta*w]
# Desired pos, vel and acc 
cmd_p = [3.14/2]
cmd_v = [0]
cmd_a = [0]

while True:    
    with env:
        torqueconfiguration, torquecoriolis, torquegravity = robot.ComputeInverseDynamics([1],None,returncomponents=True)
        err_p = cmd_p - robot.GetDOFValues()
        err_v = cmd_v - robot.GetDOFVelocities()

        # ID Controller
        M = compute_inertia_matrix(robot, robot.GetDOFValues())
        a_cmd = (Kp*err_p + Kv*err_v + cmd_a)
        taus = torquegravity + torquecoriolis +  M.dot(a_cmd.transpose()).transpose()

        # Just PD(ish) controller
        #taus = Kp*err_p - Kv*robot.GetDOFVelocities()

        with robot:
            robot.SetDOFTorques(taus,False)     # True = use limits
            print (taus, torquegravity+torquecoriolis, a_cmd, M.dot(a_cmd.transpose()).transpose())
    time.sleep(dt)


# https://scaron.info/teaching/equations-of-motion.html
def compute_inertia_matrix(robot, q, external_torque=None):
    n = len(q)
    M = np.zeros((n, n))
    with robot:
        robot.SetDOFValues(q)
        for (i, e_i) in enumerate(np.eye(n)):
            m, c, g = robot.ComputeInverseDynamics(e_i, external_torque, returncomponents=True)
            M[:, i] = m
    return M



<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Robot name="Pendulum">
    <RotationAxis>0 1 0 90</RotationAxis> <!-- makes the pendulum vertical -->
    <KinBody>
        <!-- <Mass type="mimicgeom"><density>100000</density></Mass> -->
        <Body name="Base" type="dynamic">
            <Translation>0.0  0.0  0.0</Translation>
            <Geom type="cylinder">
                <rotationaxis>1 0 0 90</rotationaxis>
                <radius>0.3</radius>
                <height>0.02</height>
                <ambientColor>1. 0. 0.</ambientColor>
                <diffuseColor>1. 0. 0.</diffuseColor>
            </Geom>
            <mass type="custom">
                <!-- specify the total mass-->
                <total>5.0</total>
                  <!-- specify the 3x3 inertia matrix-->
                  <!--<inertia>2 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 5</inertia> -->
                  <!-- specify the center of mass (if using ODE physics engine, should be 0)-->
                <com>0.1 0.0 0.0</com>
                </mass> 
        </Body>
        <Body name="Arm0" type="dynamic">
            <offsetfrom>Base</offsetfrom>
            <!-- translation and rotation  will be relative to Base -->
            <Translation>0 0 0</Translation>
            <Geom type="box">
                <Translation>1 0 0</Translation>
                <Extents>1 0.1 0.1</Extents>
                <ambientColor>1. 0. 0.</ambientColor>
                <diffuseColor>1. 0. 0.</diffuseColor>
            </Geom>
            <mass type="custom">
                <!-- specify the total mass-->
                <total>1.0</total>
                  <!-- specify the 3x3 inertia matrix-->
                  <!--<inertia>2 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 5</inertia> -->
                  <!-- specify the center of mass (if using ODE physics engine, should be 0)-->
                <com>0.5 0.0 0.0</com>
                </mass>             
        </Body>
        <Joint circular="true" name="Joint0" type="hinge">
            <Body>Base</Body>
            <Body>Arm0</Body>
            <offsetfrom>Arm0</offsetfrom>
            <weight>0</weight>
            <axis>0 0 1</axis>
            <maxvel>100</maxvel>
            <resolution>1</resolution>
        </Joint>
    </KinBody>
</Robot>

Here is some data for dt = 0.001 and env.StartSimulation(timestep=0.0001)

In this data,

  • taus is the torque command to the simulation,
  • torquegravity+torquecoriolis is returned from the inverse dynamics
  • a_cmd is the controller command and
  • M*a_cmd is the command after being multiplied by the mass matrix

The gravity and coriolis parts appear to be correct for steady state, where it should be about 4.9NM

taus, torquegravity+torquecoriolis, a_cmd, M*a_cmd
 3464.88331508,  0.48809828,  5329.83879509,  3464.39521681
 330.67177959,  1.47549936,  506.45581573,  329.19628023
-785.91806527,  2.45531014, -1212.88211601, -788.37337541
-1065.4689484,  3.23603844, -1644.16151823, -1068.70498685
-1027.47479809,  3.80261774, -1586.58063974, -1031.27741583
-877.83110127,  4.18635604, -1356.94993433, -882.01745731
-707.25108627,  4.4371714, -1094.9050118, -711.68825767
-554.34483533,  4.6006198, -859.91608481, -558.94545512
-432.22314217,  4.70818921, -672.20204828, -436.93133138
-327.797496,  4.7768792, -511.65288492, -332.5743752
-240.77203429,  4.82021019, -377.83422228, -245.59224448
-172.18942128,  4.84807059, -272.3653721, -177.03749186
-117.58895761,  4.86591166, -188.39210657, -122.45486927
-74.51920719,  4.87743369, -122.14867828, -79.39664088
-39.91183436,  4.88473444, -68.91779816, -44.7965688
-12.82321495,  4.88971433, -27.25066043, -17.71292928
 8.45349476,  4.89281357,  5.47797105,  3.56068118
 25.35468725,  4.89489884,  31.47659755,  20.45978841
 38.84080509,  4.896309,  52.22230167,  33.94449609
 48.72668147,  4.89724689,  67.42989936,  43.82943458
 56.78552877,  4.89790152,  79.82711885,  51.88762725
 65.515892,  4.89836756,  93.25772991,  60.61752444
 68.81359264,  4.89867903,  98.33063633,  63.91491362
 73.86961896,  4.89891052,  106.10878221,  68.97070844
 76.67416578,  4.89907489,  110.42321674,  71.77509088
 79.62549808,  4.89919702,  114.96354008,  74.72630105
 85.17343708,  4.89928669,  123.49869291,  80.27415039
 85.13686188,  4.89934963,  123.44232654,  80.23751225
 85.75675034,  4.89939931,  124.39592466,  80.85735103
 86.55192592,  4.89943807,  125.61921208,  81.65248785
 86.39672231,  4.89946802,  125.38039121,  81.49725429
 87.4299925,  4.89949202,  126.97000073,  82.53050048
 87.42776523,  4.8995098,  126.96654682,  82.52825543
 87.15472709,  4.8995251,  126.54646461,  82.255202
 86.97240783,  4.89953825,  126.26595319,  82.07286958
 86.98023044,  4.89954905,  126.27797137,  82.08068139
 86.75364661,  4.89955809,  125.92936696,  81.85408852
 86.9853716,  4.89956526,  126.28585591,  82.08580634
 88.01679721,  4.89957062,  127.8726563,  83.1172266
 89.2610231,  4.89957348,  129.78684557,  84.36144962
 88.47969399,  4.89957495,  128.58479851,  83.58011903
 88.77623594,  4.89957711,  129.04101359,  83.87665884
 90.87280518,  4.89957739,  132.2665043,  85.9732278
 88.9513552,  4.89957707,  129.3104279,  84.05177813
 89.14100099,  4.89957773,  129.60218964,  84.24142327

And here is some data for dt = 0.001 and env.StartSimulation(timestep=0.0005)

taus, torquegravity+torquecoriolis, a_cmd, M*a_cmd
-313.62240349,  0.98927261, -484.01796324, -314.61167611
-242.03525463,  2.00886997, -375.45249938, -244.0441246
-199.82226305,  2.79259699, -311.71516928, -202.61486003
-190.02605484,  3.39367572, -297.56881625, -193.41973056
-162.08293067,  3.8525617, -255.28537288, -165.93549237
-125.84847045,  4.17559368, -200.03702174, -130.02406413
-103.89936813,  4.40068949, -166.61547326, -108.30005762
-82.32305905,  4.5566127, -133.66103347, -86.87967175
-64.56801352,  4.66415211, -106.51102404, -69.23216563
-49.68124446,  4.73812107, -83.72210081, -54.41936553
-37.91265825,  4.78890663, -65.6947152, -42.70156488
-27.99189838,  4.82374208, -50.48560071, -32.81564046
-19.81225948,  4.84762415, -37.9382825, -24.65988362
-12.55978349,  4.8636252, -26.80524414, -17.42340869
-6.89165107,  4.87470983, -18.10209369, -11.7663609
-3.13313345,  4.88256746, -12.33184754, -8.0157009
 0.69831646,  4.88796162, -6.44560793, -4.18964516
 3.86277859,  4.89166745, -1.58290594, -1.02888886
 6.12163439,  4.8941598,  1.88842245,  1.22747459
 8.58189707,  4.89593332,  5.67071346,  3.68596375
 9.1580546,  4.89712981,  6.55526891,  4.26092479
 11.81854706,  4.89798468,  10.64701905,  6.92056238
 12.40540565,  4.89856409,  11.54898701,  7.50684156
 14.04109075,  4.89897979,  14.06478609,  9.14211096
 14.39924399,  4.89926951,  14.61534535,  9.49997448
 14.98060951,  4.89947252,  15.50944153,  10.08113699
 16.08890875,  4.89961544,  17.2142974,  11.18929331
 16.01955973,  4.89971637,  17.10745133,  11.11984337
 17.06493791,  4.89978831,  18.71561478,  12.16514961
 17.35364328,  4.89983976,  19.15969772,  12.45380352
 17.62239334,  4.89987688,  19.57310225,  12.72251646
 17.84455913,  4.89990387,  19.91485424,  12.94465525
 17.43825648,  4.89992362,  19.28974286,  12.53833286
 17.58436934,  4.89993826,  19.51450935,  12.68443108
 17.70571012,  4.8999492,  19.70117065,  12.80576093
 18.40852272,  4.89995746,  20.78240808,  13.50856525
 18.49492461,  4.89996372,  20.91532445,  13.59496089
 18.56575802,  4.89996852,  21.02429154,  13.6657895
 18.62430693,  4.89997223,  21.11436108,  13.7243347
 16.54216482,  4.89997511,  17.91106109,  11.64218971
 18.71146936,  4.89997747,  21.24844907,  13.81149189
 18.13316504,  4.89997923,  20.35874741,  13.23318581
 18.77330006,  4.89998067,  21.34356829,  13.87331939

Despite the differences in torque command (a_cmd) I still get similar performance, in that the arm drives to the right position fairly quickly. As another experiment I set the initial position to pi/2 and just fed back the gravity term to the torque output. My understanding of this is that the arm should float, ala a gravity compensation sort of thing. But it just drops as if a small torque is applied. Thanks again!

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It seems like your desired trajectory is being affected by the timestep setting. This should not be the case. When you slow down the similation timestep, does the position profile also slow down? Can you include a couple of graphs of the rotational position, velocity, and acceleration values for two different timesteps? $\endgroup$ – SteveO Jul 21 '16 at 12:04
  • $\begingroup$ I'll echo what @SteveO said - we can help troubleshoot a lot of problems here, but not without data. Data is what separates an answer from a guess. $\endgroup$ – Chuck Jul 21 '16 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ Hey fellas, thanks for taking a look. I've updated my question with a bit more info. Just on what SteveO said, there is no trajectory generation at the moment. Just very basic 'trying to drive to a position'. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – law Jul 22 '16 at 3:55
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the update. I see that you are just asking for a step change in the pendulum's position. I do not understand (yet) why, for timestep = 0.0001, the initial a_cmd value is so large. It is over 5,000 compared with -484 for the longer timestep. $\endgroup$ – SteveO Jul 22 '16 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not too sure what's going on here. I think the early timestep values should be fairly large. Based just on the Kp term, the initial step should be around 100^2*(pi/2 - 0) = 15700. Also, the difference in the outgoing toques is about 5 times lower for simtimestep = 0.005. Very strange! I might have to have a dig through the OpenRAVE code. $\endgroup$ – law Jul 26 '16 at 10:53
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I came back to this problem and just stumbled over an answer. At the end of the simulation update step I was using:

time.sleep(dt)

It should have been:

env.StepSimulation(dt)

This fixed that particular problem.

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  • $\begingroup$ So the sleep command was not accounting for the dynamics during the time delay? I am trying to understand why this fixes the issue... $\endgroup$ – SteveO Mar 21 '18 at 2:47

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