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Predicting planetary rover mobility in reduced gravity using 1-g experiments


Predicting planetary rover mobility in reduced gravity using 1-g experiments

Daca, Adriana (2022) Predicting planetary rover mobility in reduced gravity using 1-g experiments. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Traversing granular regolith, especially in reduced gravity environments, remains a potential challenge for wheeled rovers. Mitigating hazards for planetary rovers requires testing in representative environments, but direct Earth-based testing fails to account for the effect of reduced gravity on the soil itself. Here, experimental apparatus and techniques for reduced-gravity flight testing are used to systematically evaluate three existing Earth-based testing methods and develop guidelines for their use and interpretation: (i) reduced-weight testing, (ii) matching soil testing instrument response through soil simulant design, and (iii) granular scaling laws (GSL).
Experimentation campaigns flying reduced-gravity parabolas, with soil and wheel both in lunar-g, have shown reductions in net traction of 20% or more and increases in sinkage of up to 40% compared to Earth-based testing methods (i) and (ii). Scaled-wheel testing, according to GSL (method iii) has shown better agreement with reduced-g tests (less than 10% error) and also tends to err on the side of conservative predictions.
Limitations of GSL are investigated including a recently proposed cohesion constraint (that the wheel radius ratio must be the inverse of the gravity ratio) and the effects of wheel size and aspect ratio on GSL’s accuracy. It was found that the cohesion constraint can most likely be ignored for mildly cohesive soils such as lunar regolith. Limits on wheel sizes and aspect ratio variation are also proposed.
The application of GSL to planetary rover testing is demonstrated through two studies undertaken in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. One study compares wheel designs for a skid-steer lunar rover in single-wheel tests scaled by GSL, demonstrating that diagonal grousers improve turning performance without requiring larger wheels. The second study involves application of GSL to the design of two reconfigurable test platforms for evaluating steep-terrain mobility performance.
Another aspect of rover mobility testing—normal force control in single-wheel testbeds—is also investigated. An improved method for single-wheel testing, using a 4-bar mechanism, essentially eliminates normal force oscillations from frictional vertical sliders.
Finally, guidelines for conducting and interpreting 1-g mobility tests for lunar rovers are presented, and potential avenues for future research are outlined.

Divisions:Concordia University > Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science > Electrical and Computer Engineering
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Daca, Adriana
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Electrical and Computer Engineering
Date:16 November 2022
Thesis Supervisor(s):Skonieczny, Krzysztof
ID Code:991773
Deposited By: Adriana Daca
Deposited On:21 Jun 2023 14:06
Last Modified:21 Jun 2023 14:06
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