This paper presents our preliminary research into the autonomous control of an alpine skiing robot. Based on our previous experience with active balancing on difficult terrain and developing an ice-skating robot, we have implemented a simple control system that allows the humanoid robot Jennifer to steer around a simple alpine skiing course, brake, and actively control the pitch and roll of the skis in order to maintain stability on hills with variable inclination. The robot steers and brakes by using the edges of the skis to dig into the snow, by inclining both skis to one side the robot can turn in an arc. By rolling the skis outward and pointing the toes together the robot creates a snowplough shape that rapidly reduces its forward velocity. To keep the skis in constant contact with the hill we use two independent proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controllers to continually adjust the robot's inclination in the frontal and sagittal planes. Our experiments show that these techniques are sufficient to allow a small humanoid robot to alpine ski autonomously down hills of different inclination with variable snow conditions.
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