Novel Suspension Mechanisms For A Three Wheeled Mobile Robot Traversing Uneven Terrains Without Slip
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A wheeled mobile robot (WMR) will move on uneven terrain without slip if the length of the axle connecting two wheels can change or for a fixed length axle the wheels are allowed to tilt in a lateral direction. In this work, we consider a three-wheeled mobile robot with torus shaped wheels capable of lateral tilting. Due to the requirement of lateral tilting a two degree of freedom (DOF) suspension, one for maintaining contact with terrain and one for lateral tilting, is assumed to connect the wheels to the WMR body. Six concepts of two DOF suspension mechanisms are proposed. A WMR with these suspension mechanisms are modeled and two kinds of simulations, namely, direct kinematic analysis and inverse kinematic analysis are performed on several uneven terrains with and without suspension. Slip velocity, the path followed and the lateral tilt angle are estimated as a function of time. The force-angle stability measure is used to check the tip-over instability of the WMR on uneven terrain. It is shown that without the two DOF suspensions and with the wheels not allowed to tilt laterally, the WMR is not capable of traversing uneven terrains without large slip. When the wheels are allowed to tilt laterally with a two DOF suspension, the wheeled mobile robot slips very little. Based on least slip and less deviation from desired path, it is shown that the two best possible suspension mechanisms are the SFTA suspension and D4Bar suspension. Two prototype of three-wheeled mobile robot with these suspensions are fabricated using some components from a readily available commercial kit and with especially designed and manufactured wheels with the two degrees of freedom suspension. Simulations on an uneven terrain verify that the three-wheeled mobile robot can traverse uneven terrains with very little slip for three representative paths, namely a straight line, a circular arc and a path representing a lane change. Experiments with the two prototypes on physically constructed uneven terrain, very similar to the one used for simulation, confirm that the slip is significantly reduced with the two degree of freedom suspensions. The path of the centre of mass of the WMRs, projected on uneven surface, and the error from the desired path is presented for all the three representative paths. The simulation and experimental results clearly show that the three wheeled mobile robot with the novel two DOF suspension mechanisms can traverse uneven terrain with low slip.