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Proceeding of the IEEE International Conference on Information and Automation Shenzhen, China June 2011

A Novel High Adaptability Out-door Mobile Robot with Diameter-variable Wheels*

Lan Zheng1, 2, 3, Peng Zhang1, 2, &, Ying Hu1, 2, Gang Yu3, Zhangjun Song1, 2, Jianwei Zhang4
Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences 2 The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China 3 Mechanical Engineering and Automation, HIT Shenzhen Graduate School 4 TAMS, Department of Informatics, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany & Author for correspondence, Email: or
Abstract A novel high adaptability out-door mobile robot with diameter-variable wheels was proposed in this paper. The robot has advantages of good climbing obstacle capability, high terrain adaptability and stability for the self-adapting suspension and walking wheel combining the efficiency of wheels with the climbing mobility of legs. The mechanism structure and working principle were described. The kinematics model and dynamic model are presented of the folding and unfolding of the wheel and interaction between wheel and terrain respectively. A simulation in MSC.ADAMS has been carried out to verify the operation and the reality of the prototype. The simulation results show that the robot with diameter-variable wheels has good performance of climbing obstacles in the rough terrain. Index Terms outdoor mobile robot; diameter-variable wheel; unstructured environment; high adaptability

Based on the two aspects discussed in front, a novel high adaptability out-door mobile robot is proposed in this paper, which has four diameter-variable wheels and passive swinging suspension. In this case, wheeled and legged structures are combined in order to keep their respective advantages. There is another advantage that the suspension is able to adapt to terrain automatically and thus can ensure the stability of robot moving in rough unstructured terrain. The typical useful application [6] can be the use of mobile robotic systems in rough, unstructured environment, such as underground mines, community, pipeline detection, disaster sites, and planetary explorations. II. STRUCTURE DESIGN OF THE MOBILE ROBOT A. Structure Scheme Fig.1 shows a kind of retractable polyhedron institution based on single-degree of freedom. Its basic unit structure is a kind of planar linkage mechanism. The mechanism is driven by the center triangles rotation. Based on retractable polyhedron institutions discussed in the front, a kind of new wheel (Fig.2) that has foldable ability and good obstacle-surmounting performance is proposed.

I. INTRODUCTION Wheeled mobile robots have advantages of good performance of moving smoothly and fast, but its obstacle surmounting performance and adaptability are a little poor [1] [2]. Considerable research has been done on wheel structure to improve the trafficability of wheeled robot. A typical method that improves capability of climbing obstacle is to change the wheel diameter such as triangle fork mechanism. The radius of the wheel and the length of triangle fork are equal, as well as their centers are in the same height level. Clearly the triangle fork has good obstacle-climbing performance. The Case Western Reserve University of United States developed a mobile robot which adopts such a structure [3] [4]. This structure enlightened by the crawling movement of cockroaches has a good bionic and a strong capacity to cross the obstacle. Another way to improve the capability of climbing obstacle is to change suspension system into other institutions such as legged structures. A typical way that can support this method is Leg-Wheel walking robot [5] which designed by C. Tavolieri and E. Ottaviano in University of Cassin. The leg structure that mentioned has one DOF (degree of freedom) and it is possible to have one actuator moving both legs while wheels are passive.
*This work is partially supported by Science and Technology Planning
Program of Shenzhen City (grant No.JC201005270361A), Shenzhen key projects of basic research (grant No.JC201005270375A), Natural Science Foundation of China (grant No.51005227) and CAS Knowledge Innovation project (grant No.KGCXZ-YW-128).

Fig.1 Planar polygonal mechanism

Fig.2 Foldable wheel

The wheel suggested in the paper has two basic functions, one in normal flat terrain, the traditional circle wheel can realize its high speed, smooth, and stability performance, and the other is in rough terrain with varying characteristics, the foldable wheel unfolds to realize good performance of obstacle-surmounting. In order to improve the robots terrain adaptive capability, we eventually designed the outdoor mobile robot as shown in figure 3. There are four combined foldable wheels as well as a passive swinging suspension. Each wheel is driven independently. The swinging suspension helps to make robot

978-1-61284-4577-0270-9/11/$26.00 2011 IEEE


adapt to rough terrain. The ability of anti-overturning is enhanced. Each part structure is shown in Fig.3.

(4) Each point of the blade move translational parallel to the stationary bar respectively. Next we can get the folding rate by calculation. The final way is to get the coordinate of point D . There are two methods, one analytical method, and the other geometric method. Method 1: The equation of line AD is: (5) y L cos L = cot ( x L sin ) Knowing l AD = 2 3 L and the coordinate of point A beforehand, can we get the coordinate of point D through the information above. Method 2: By the relationship of geometric, the coordinate can be described directly as: ( xD , yD ) = ( L sin + l AD sin , L cos + L l AD cos ) (6)
2 lOD = 2 L2 (1 + cos ) + l AD 2 Ll AD [cos + cos( + )] (7) From equation (7), the max length of OD has relationship with the variable value , constant value and l AD . When

K A = L ,

K a A = L 2

Fig.3 The whole 4-wheeled out-door mobile robot

B. Kinematical Analysis To study the kinematics of the foldable wheel easily, the mechanism is decomposed into three branch chains. As the institution is centrally symmetric, we can get the whole motion situation of this mechanism through the analysis of any article of branch institution. As shown in Fig. 4, point O is the center of the foldable wheel, all the connecting rods are the same and the length is L . OE , OF with angle 120are the components of the same part. Linkage OB is a rod of a trigeminal stem. The angle between OB and OE is . Points A, C are two connecting points of the blade while D is its endpoint. From Fig.4, the most important task is studying the motion of the blades, and line AC is parallel to line EF which doesnt move while unfolding. So the motion of blade ACD is a translational motion. Kinematics equation could be obtained by studying any point of the blade ACD .

l AD = 2 3 L , = 30 the limitation situations of are 0 degree, the foldable wheel folds to normal wheel. So that: =0o, = 2 L (8)
When =120o, = 13L , point O, B and C are in the same line, the wheel diameter reach the maximum value. The folding rate of the wheel could be 1.8028. C. Obstacle-navigation performance analysis Mobility or trafficability is the most important and basic performance of out-door mobile robots [7]. It includes the obstacle surmounting ability, smooth, terrain adaptive, the stability, steering sensitivity, and so on. Among them, the obstacle-surmounting performance is one of the most important indexes, which can reflect the ability of the robot with diameter-variable wheel structure climbing obstacle and getting through rough unstructured terrain. Studying the obstacle-navigation performance of robots on one hand leads us understand obstacle-surmounting principle theoretically, on the other hand it is the basis reference of designing the robot. On rough terrain, when ordinary circle wheel cant pass through obstacles with height greater than the radius of the wheel, the foldable institutions spread out into leg-wheel structure to improve ability of climbing obstacles. For simplicity, the wheel in Fig.2 is simplified to ordinary wheel-leg structure (see Fig.5). It is the outline of the middle state of unfolding process. The principle of obstacle-navigation is that when the front leg contact with obstacles, under the effect of the friction from terrain, the gravity center goes upwards, meanwhile, the angle between the line connect the center of front and back wheel and the horizontal getting greater and greater, the gravity center move ahead slowly. In climbing over the obstacle, the necessary for success is in the moving direction the gravity center beyond the climb fulcrum. In this situation, the gravity provides the whole flip torque so as to speed up trespassing.



Fig. 4 Structure schematic of foldable wheel

The coordinate of point A is: (2 L cos sin ,2 L cos cos ) = ( L sin , L + L cos ) (1) 2 2 2 2 G G G A = ( L cos ,L sin ) (2) G G K K2 K2 a A = (L sin + L cos ,L cos L sin ) (3) G Among which: is the velocity of trigeminal stem OB , G and is its acceleration. G G K K As = 0 , a A = (L sin 2 ,L cos 2 ) the modulus of velocity and acceleration of point A respectively are:


Fig.5 The simplified model of diameter-variable wheel unfolded

Wheel-leg structure has stronger obstacle-climbing capability compared to common wheeled structure. We can approximately calculate the limit height of obstacles that the robot can climb. Suppose every part of the institutions has no deformation, the height of obstacle that robot can climb is h ; N1 comes from the force between terrain and front wheel; the length of the whole robot is L1 ; the length of the line connect the center of front and back wheel is L2 ; the distance along the length of robot between the center of front wheel and the center of gravity is L3 ; the force analysis when robot connect with terrain is shows in Fig.6.

: The angler between the line that connect with point A and the center of front wheel and x direction; : The angler between the line which connect with centers of front and back wheels and x direction; When = 0 degree M 1 gets its biggest value, which means when the instance that the front wheel raised, the orientation angler has not changed, the value of torque of front wheel becomes maximum. This moment is the critical one. At the moment as long as the value of torque satisfies the requirement of trespassing, robot can climb the obstacle eventually. From the geometric relationships Fig.6 shows can we get the height of obstacles that robot can climb theoretically: h l cos(120 90 ) + l sin = 3l sin(30 + ) (13) Suppose the front of robot wont touch the obstacle surface, see Fig.6, the limit position is that leg 2 connect with obstacle surface, leg 1 tangent with obstacle surface, according to geometric relationship, we know that max 43 l max = r1 (14) Take (14) into (13) we get the limitation height of obstacle that robot can climb. hmax 1.656r1 (15) So the limitation of height that foldable wheel can climb is 1.6 times radius of wheel-leg institution. While in this article the folding rate is 1.8, so the height of robot can climb over is 2.97times as long as the radius of original wheel. D. Stability analysis There is another problem-stability analysis. That is affected on the whole robots overturn from the position of gravity center. The static stability condition is the projection of the center of mass falls in the projection polygon formed by the supporting points [8].

Fig.6 Force analysis when robot contacts with an obstacle

Suppose the values of torque of all motors are the same, from Fig.6 we get: M 1 M 2 (9) Take point B as the reference point, there is torque balance that: ( f1 sin + N1 cos ){l cos + [ L2 r1 cos( )] cos } + (10) ( f1 cos + N1 sin )[l sin + L2 sin + r1 sin( )]
= 0.5G[( L2 L3 ) cos r1 cos( )] + M 1 + M 2 The force balance: N1 cos + f1 sin + N 2 = G (11) The torque of front wheel is: M 1 = ( N1 cos + f1 sin )l cos + ( N1 sin + f1 cos )l sin (12) = N1l cos() + f1l sin( + ) Among which, l : The distance between the center of front wheel and point A ; r1 : The diameter of wheel-leg;

Fig.7 The impact of center of gravity on overturning of bodies

The limitation situation is 1 L cos (16) 2 2 Where point O is robot center of gravity; the distance between gravity and wheel center attachment is b ; e is the distance that gravity away from the vertical surface that through wheel centers. So one of ways to improve ability of robots climbing obstacle is decrease the value of b and e , the other is increase the value of L2 .
b sin + e cos <

: The angler between adjacent wheels; : The angler between the anti-force and y direction;


III. NEWTON-EULERS EQUATIONS Fig.8 is the dynamic model of this four-wheel robot. XYZ Coordinate system fixed on the ground, with XY plan superposed to the plan which decided by the centers of four wheels. xyz Coordinate system fixed on the robot with its origin superposed to the gravity center of the robot. In the figure, Fti , F fi , Fsi , N i are driving force, rolling resistance, transverse force, and supporting force from ground respectively for the ith wheel ( i=1 2 3 4). The coordinate of wheel center in xyz system is (ai , bi , ci ) . Values K A , K B are the radius and resilient rigid coefficients of wheel respectively, and C A , CB are radius and transverse damping coefficients of wheel respectively.

The force effected on wheel, can be expressed in body fixed coordinate by

Fix FitFif T Fiy = Q1 Fis Fiz N i


Q1T : The transposed matrix of Q1 Ignoring the influence of elastic deformation of wheels, the torque of Fix , Fiy and Fiz around the driven shaft respectively is
( RH sin ) Fiy mix miy = ( RH sin ) FixRH cos Fiz
miz RH cos Fiy (23) RH : The length of wheel leg. The torque imposed on robot in body fixed coordinate system is bi Fizci Fiy mix mx 4 4 ci Fixai Fiz miy + my = mz
i =1



i =1

ai Fiybi Fix

Fig.8 dynamic model

The conversion matrix from body fixed coordinate to ground coordinate is

coscos cos sin sin - sin cos sin sin + cos sin cos sin sin cos - cos sin cos cos Q1 = sin cos cos cos + sin sin sin - sin cos sin

Ignoring windward resistance and accidental disturbance force, the force imposed on robot can be expressed in body fixed coordinate system by
Fixmg sin
i =1 4

(17) , , : The orientation angler of robot in fixed coordinate system. The coordinate of gravity center of this robot in fixed coordinate system can be expressed as OG = XI + YJ + ZK (18) Derivate (18) and convert it into body fixed coordinate system, there is
OG X cos cos + Y sin cos - Z sin = X (cos sin sin - sin cos ) + Y (cos cos + sin sin sin ) + Z cos sin X (sin sin + cos sin cos ) + Y (sin sin cos - cos sin ) + Z cos cos

Fx Fy = Fz

Fiy + mg cos sin Fiz + mg cos cos

i =1 i =1 4


m, g : The mass of the robot and gravity acceleration. From above all, Newton-Eulers equations of the four-wheel robot can be expressed as following [m]{ac } = {F } (26)
{H c } + [ w]{H c } = {m}


Where m 0 0 [ m] = 0 m 0 0 0 m Ix {H c } = 0 I xy 0 Iy 0

(19) The relationship between angler orientation and angular velocity is

{F} = [ Fx , Fy , Fz ]T
, I xy 1 0 2 I z 3 0 [ w] = 3 2

{m} = [mx , m y , mz ]T

sin = cos + cos sin cos cos sin

sin cos


3 0 1

2 1 0

{H c } : Relative derivative matrix of {H c } I x , I y , I z : The inertia corresponding to x, y and z shaft

I xy : Inertial product corresponding to x, y shaft

= cos cos + cos sin + cos cos sin sin (21) cos cos cos sin sin cos sin cos


The reverse force and transverse counterforce from terrain can be expressed respectively are
N i = K A [ Z - ( ai + R H cos ) sin + bi cos sin + (ci + R H sin ) cos cos ] + C A {Z - [(ci + R H sin )2 - bi 3 - R H sin ] sin + [(a i + R H cos )3 (ci + R H sin )1 ] cos sin + [bi 1 - ( a i + R H cos ) 2 + R H cos ] cos cos } Fis = K B [Y + ( a i + R H cos ) sin - (ci + R H sin ) cos sin ] + C B {Y [(ci + R H sin )2 - bi 3 - R H sin ] sin + [(ai + R H cos )3 - (ci + R H sin )1 ] cos - [bi 3 - ( a i + R H cos )2 + R H cos ] cos cos }

0.4 0.39 0.38 0.37 0.36 0.35 0 5 10 15 time(s) 20 25

Fig.9 the mass center curve along vertical direction relevant to time

Research of the dynamic equations respect to the whole robot can be divided into two situations [9], one it can be applied into studying the dynamic behavior, and helps to select the structure parameters, the other it provides the bases for robot control. In the first situation, for the study of convergence, the dynamic equation can be necessarily simplified in order to study the power, the vibration of vertical angle and stability of walking orientation. In the second case, each anti-force according to the information from the terrain is obtained. Along with initial conditions, the dynamic equations can be solved. IV. SIMULATION The key of Virtual prototype technology is kinematics and dynamics simulation of some mechanical system. Using this technology, design process of mechanical structures simplified; the cost of developing product reduced. As a result, optimized and innovated product design is obtained. Automatic Dynamic Analysis of Mechanical System (ADAMS) developed by the company of MDI in American is the most excellent mechanical system simulation software. In this project the simulation of both the process of unfolding of single wheel and that of climbing variable obstacles of the whole robot are carried out to verify the operation and the reality of the prototype. As shown in Fig.10, after importing the model that built in Solidworks to ADAMS, adding gravity, rotating vices, locking constraints etc, the kinematics simulation analysis of the foldable wheel is obtained. In ADAMS environment, we can easily see the relationship between curve point and animation state since it is real-time controlled. The superiority of the foldable wheel this paper mentioned can be well proved by ADAMS simulation compared to legged wheel. There are congenital deficiencies that it moves jumpily in legged robot. The fluctuation is 0.027 m from Fig.9 the mass center curve of robot along vertical direction. In order to avoid this situation, the foldable wheel is designed-in flat terrain we use the state of folded wheel; in uneven terrain we use the state of unfolded wheel. In the simulation of foldable wheels, it requires a lot of calculation and time because of numerous links. Therefore, in doing obstacle-navigation simulation of mobile mechanism, we simplify the robot as show in Fig.10 (only obtain the simulation of the process of climbing obstacles).

In the process of simulation, virtual terrain with uneven ground, stairs, entrenchment and other special obstacles is established. These are designed to test the obstacle-climbing capability of four-wheel robot. TABLE.1 shows the parameters of variable obstacles. All the value of parameters is equal or larger than the radius of the original folded wheel. In the process of simulation, the robot will climb these obstacles respectively.

Fig.10 Simplified Simulation Model TABLE.1 PARAMETERS OF OBSTACLES Style of Obstacle Uneven Terrain Stairs Entrenchment Parameters Index (mm) Maximum Height :180 Height:120 Width:140 Depth:150 Width:200

A. climbing uneven terrain Due to uneven terrain-the tongue and sag distributed randomly, the wheel is unfolded to wheel-legged. In this situation it is jumping moved and is advantageous to climbing obstacles. The process of climbing uneven terrain is shown in Fig.11. The front wheel changes bigger when it comes up with obstacle, while the later wheel is still normal (see Fig.11.a) and vice versa (see Fig.11.d).



(c) (d) Fig.11 The process of climbing uneven ground


(a) Fig.12 Span the Vertical Obstacle


(a) Fig.13 climbing the entrenchment


B. climbing stairs Before contact barriers, the two-side wheels were adjusted into same phase (see Fig.12.a) so as to insure the wheels contact barriers at the same time. It is surely guarantee the stability of left-right motion.

C. climbing entrenchment The process of climbing entrenchment is similar to that of climbing stairs (see Fig.13). After climbing these obstacles, all wheels of robot are folded in order to move in flat terrain and realize their characteristics of high speed and high efficient.

Fig.14 Torque diagram of motors that drive vehicle running

Fig.14 shows Torque diagrams of motors that drive vehicle running. It helps to inspect the accuracy of theoretical calculation through dynamic analysis. By simulation the conclusion that this novel robot has high adaptability to terrain with varying characteristics is obtained. The robot can adjust its rotation angle of driven motor in order to adapt to different obstacles and the sway suspension self-adapting to different terrain guarantee its stability moving.

[1] Jin Yan, Sunil K, Rimless Wheel with Radial Expanding Spokes: dynamics, impact, and table gait, IEEE International conference on robotics &automation New Orleans, pp.2633-2638, April 2004. [2] Lewinger, W. A., Watson, M. S., Quinn, R. D., Obstacle Avoidance Behavior for a Biologically-inspired Mobile Robot Using Binaural Ultrasonic Sensors, IEEE Int. Conf. on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Beijing, China, pp. 5769-5774, 2006. [3] Lambrecht, B. G. A., Horchler, A. D., and Quinn, R. D., A Small Insect Inspired Robot that Runs and Jumps, IEEE Int. Conf. on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Barcelona, Spain, pp. 1240-1245, 2005. [4] Allen, T. J., Quinn, R. D., Bachmann, R. J., and Ritzmann, R. E., Abstracted Biological Principles Applied with Reduced Actuation Improve Mobility of Legged Vehicles, IEEE Int. Conf. on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Las Vegas, USA, vol. 2, pp. 1370-1375,2003. [5] Jack, A.Jones, Inflatable Robotics for Planetary Applications Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology, 90027 USA. [6] C. Tavolieri, E. Ottaviano and M. Ceccarelli, Design of a New Leg-Wheel Walking Robot, Proceedings of the 15th Mediterranean conference on control &automation, Athens, Greece, July 27-29, 2007. [7] Osamu Matsumoto, Shuuji Kajita, Flexible Locomotion control of a self-contained Biped Wheel-leg system, Proceeding of the 2002 IEEE/RSJ Intl. conference on intelligent robots and systems EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland.pp.2599-2604, October 2002. [8] Yaozhi Luo, Decan Maoon,a type of radially retractable plate structures, International Journal of solids and structures, pp.3452-3467, 2007. [9] Ch.Grand, Ph.Bidaud et al. Design of an innovative unfoldable wheel with contact surface adaptation mechanism for planetary rovers, Proceedings of the 9th ESA workshop on advanced space technologies for robotics and automation ASTRA 2006ESTEC, The Netherlands pp.1-8, November 28-30, 2006.

In this paper the kinemics and dynamics analysis with respect to a high adaptability outdoor mobile robot have been investigated. The dynamic analysis method is based on Newton-Eulers equations. In order to test the capability of moving performance of this robot, the limitation height of obstacle that the robot can climb has been analyzed as well as the stability of this robot and last illustrated by simulations in ADAMS software. Future works will be devoted to propose the control method for trajectory tracking works and design Mechanical arms in order to make the robot do some grasping and detecting tasks.