Inching Locomotion for Planetary Rover Mobility

Scott Jared Moreland, Krzysztof Skonieczny, and David Wettergreen
IEEE Aerospace, March, 2011.

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New articulated planetary rovers offer alternative locomotion modalities beyond conventional rolling wheel mobility. These new modalities should be explored to overcome the limitations of traditional rolling mobility, and expand the areas of planetary surfaces amenable to exploration. The topic of this study is a hybrid push-roll locomotion mode called inching. Static (non-rolling) wheels are used in conjunction with the rolling wheels of a vehicle in order to increase net traction potential. Preliminary experiments have shown an approximate doubling in drawbar pull for the inching locomotion mode relative to pure rolling. This improvement is not accounted for by reductions to wheel motion resistance alone, and furthermore evidence is provided that static wheels are capable of reacting more ground thrust than rolling wheels. Further investigations using a transparent soil tank, and novel image processing techniques, reveal key differences in the soil shear failure interface under rolling and static wheels. For the cases studied, static wheels generated much deeper and more unified soil failure masses than rolling wheels. Further investigation is recommended to clarify the physics of these thrust development processes, and ultimately to populate the vehicle design space for inching locomotion.

planetary rover, locomotion, wheel-soil interaction

Associated Center(s) / Consortia: Field Robotics Center
Associated Project(s): Lunar Rover for Polar Crater Exploration

Text Reference
Scott Jared Moreland, Krzysztof Skonieczny, and David Wettergreen, "Inching Locomotion for Planetary Rover Mobility," IEEE Aerospace, March, 2011.

BibTeX Reference
   author = "Scott Jared Moreland and Krzysztof Skonieczny and David Wettergreen",
   title = "Inching Locomotion for Planetary Rover Mobility",
   booktitle = "IEEE Aerospace",
   month = "March",
   year = "2011",