Research Papers

A Hybrid Tracked-Wheeled Multi-Directional Mobile Robot

[+] Author and Article Information
Pinhas Ben-Tzvi

Robotics and Mechatronics Laboratory,
Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering,
Virginia Tech,
Blacksburg, VA 24061
e-mail: bentzvi@vt.edu

Wael Saab

Softwear Automation Inc.,
Atlanta, GA 30318
e-mail: waelsaab@vt.edu

Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publication in the Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics. Manuscript received May 24, 2018; final manuscript received April 11, 2019; published online May 17, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Robert J. Wood.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 11(4), 041008 (May 17, 2019) (10 pages) Paper No: JMR-18-1150; doi: 10.1115/1.4043599 History: Received May 24, 2018; Accepted April 11, 2019

This paper presents the novel design and integration of a mobile robot with multi-directional mobility capabilities enabled via a hybrid combination of tracks and wheels. Tracked and wheeled locomotion modes are independent from one another, and are cascaded along two orthogonal axes to provide multi-directional mobility. An actuated mechanism toggles between these two modes for optimal mobility under different surface-traction conditions, and further adds an additional translational axis of mobility. That is, the robot can move in the longitudinal direction via the tracks on rugged terrain for high traction, in the lateral direction via the wheels on smooth terrain for high-speed locomotion, and along the vertical axis via the translational joint. Additionally, the robot is capable of yaw axis mobility using differential drives in both tracked and wheeled modes of operation. The paper presents design and analysis of the proposed robot along with a dynamic stabilization algorithm to prevent the robot from tipping over while carrying an external payload on inclined surfaces. Experimental results using an integrated prototype demonstrate multi-directional capabilities of the mobile platform and the dynamic stability algorithm to stabilize the robot while carrying various external payloads on inclined surfaces measuring up to 2.5 kg and 10 deg, respectively.

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Fig. 1

CAD model of the proposed hybrid mobility robot: (a) the isometric view of the robot, (b) the tracked locomotion mode in the longitudinal direction, and (c) the wheeled locomotion mode in the lateral direction

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Fig. 2

CAD model of the tracked unit with the tracks removed to show the internal components

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Fig. 3

CAD model of the WU

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Fig. 4

CAD model of the VTM

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Fig. 5

Schematic diagram depicting mechatronic implementation sensing and actuation

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Fig. 6

Schematic of the hybrid mobility robot during wheeled locomotion

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Fig. 7

Computed simulation results of maximum allowable acceleration as a function of ground pitch angle and external payload

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Fig. 8

Integrated prototype: (a) wheeled and (b) tracked locomotion mode

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Fig. 9

Experimental results of a no payload Mext = 0 kg case scenario: (a) robot acceleration, (b) wheel velocity, and (c) robot pitch angle ψ

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Fig. 10

Experimental results of an attached external payload Mext = 1 kg case scenario: (a) robot acceleration, (b) wheel velocity, and (c) robot pitch angle ψ

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Fig. 11

Experimental results of an attached external payload Mext = 1 kg while robot ascends a 10 deg inclined plane: (a) robot acceleration and (b) wheel velocity

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Fig. 12

Dynamic stability experimental results of an attached external payload Mext = 2.5 kg case scenario: (a) robot acceleration and (b) wheel velocity

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Fig. 13

Benefits of multi-directional mobility during a reconfiguration procedure: (a) translational longitudinal mobility along the -X′-axis, (b) translational vertical mobility along the Z′-axis, (c) translational lateral mobility along the Y′-axis, (d) yaw mobility along the Z′-axis, (e) translational lateral mobility along the -X′-axis, and (f) successful docking



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