Studies of the tire-terrain interaction have mostly been completed on vehicles with steered wheels, but not much work has been done regarding skid-steered Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV). This paper introduces a mathematical model of normal and longitudinal dynamics of a UGV with four skid-steered pneumatic tire wheels. Unlike the common approach, in which two wheels at each side are treated as one wheel (i.e., having the same rotational speeds), all four wheels in this study are independently driven. Thus the interaction of each tire with deformable terrain is introduced as holonomic constraints.
The stress-strain characteristics for tire-soil interaction are analyzed based on modern Terramechanics methods and then further used to determine the circumferential wheel forces of the four tires. Contributions of three components of each tire circumferential force to tire slippages are modeled and analyzed when the tire normal loads vary during vehicle straight-line motion. The considered tire-soil characteristics are mathematically reduced to a form that allows condensing the computational time for on-line computing tire-terrain characteristics. Additionally, rolling resistance of the tires is analyzed and incorporated in the UGV dynamic equations.
Moreover, the paper describes the physics of slip power losses in the tire-soil interaction of the four tires and applies it to small skid-steered UGV. This study also formulates an optimization problem of the minimization of the power losses in the tire-soil interactions due to the tire slippage.