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.