Title: Integration of geometry and analysis for the study of continuum-based airless tyres of planetary wheeled robots

Authors: Edoardo Samarini; Ahmed A. Shabana; Emanuele Grossi; Aurelio Somà

Addresses: Department of Mechanical Engineering, Turin Polytechnic University, Turin, 10129, Italy ' Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago, 842 West Taylor Street, Chicago, Illinois 60607, USA ' Exponent, 525 West Monroe Street, Suite 1050, Chicago, IL 60661, USA ' Department of Mechanical Engineering, Turin Polytechnic University, Turin, 10129, Italy

Abstract: Because of the scientific challenges of space explorations, several space agencies are involved in the design of autonomous planetary surface exploration devices. Examples are Mars rovers, designed with the goal of collecting terrain information, including dust, soil, rocks, and liquids. The design of such sophisticated rovers can be enhanced by less reliance on trial-and-error process, building expensive physical models, and time-consuming experimental testing. Physics-based virtual prototyping contributes to an efficient and credible Mars rover designs. In this paper, a new flexible multibody system (MBS) rover model for planetary exploration is developed. Because the rover, a wheeled robot, must be designed to negotiate uneven terrains, the airless wheels must be able to adapt to different soil patterns and harsh operating and environmental conditions. In order to describe the airless-wheel complex geometry and capture its large deformations and rotations, the absolute nodal coordinate formulation (ANCF) finite elements are used. A numerical study is performed to compare the ANCF kinematics and tractive force results with the results of the discrete brush tyre model, widely used in the vehicle-dynamics literature. Several simulation scenarios are considered, including a drop test and acceleration along a straight line. The numerical results obtained are verified using data published in the literature and are used to evaluate the accuracy and computational efficiency of the ANCF airless-tyre modelling approach.

Keywords: Mars rover; airless-tyre geometry; virtual prototyping; wheeled robots; ANCF; absolute nodal coordinate formulation; I-CAD-A; integration of computer-aided design and analysis; vehicle dynamics.

DOI: 10.1504/IJVP.2020.111411

International Journal of Vehicle Performance, 2020 Vol.6 No.4, pp.446 - 480

Received: 08 May 2020
Accepted: 31 Jul 2020

Published online: 23 Nov 2020 *

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