The control system of a highly dynamic robot requires the ability to respond quickly to changes in the robot’s state. This type of system is needed in varying fields such as dynamic locomotion, multicopter control, and human-robot interaction. Robots in these fields require software and hardware capable of hard real-time, high frequency control. In addition, the application outlined in this paper requires modular components, remote guidance, and mobile control. The described system integrates a computer on the robot for running a control algorithm, a bus for communicating with microcontrollers connected to sensors and actuators, and a remote user interface for interacting with the robot. Current commercial solutions can be expensive, and open source solutions are often time consuming. The key innovation described in this paper is the building of a control system from existing — mostly open source — components that can provide realtime, high frequency control of the robot. This paper covers the development of such a control system based on ROS, OROCOS, and EtherCAT, its implementation on a dynamic bipedal robot, and system performance test results.

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