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Reconfigurable wheels : re-inventing the wheel for the next generation of planetary rovers

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dc.contributor.advisor Olivier L de Weck. en_US
dc.contributor.author Baker, Brittany, S.M. Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.contributor.other Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics. en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2012-07-02T15:42:54Z
dc.date.available 2012-07-02T15:42:54Z
dc.date.copyright 2012 en_US
dc.date.issued 2012 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/71459
dc.description Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2012. en_US
dc.description Cataloged from PDF version of thesis. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (p. 84-85). en_US
dc.description.abstract Experiences with Spirit and Opportunity, the twin Mars Exploration Rovers, showed that one of the major issues that needs to be addressed in order to expand the exploration capabilities of planetary rovers is that of wheel traction. The relationships governing how much traction a wheel can produce are highly dependent on both the shape of the wheel and terrain properties. These relationships are complex and not yet fully understood. The amount of power required to drive a wheel is also dependent on its shape and the terrain properties. Wheel sizes that tend to maximize traction also tend to require more power. In the past, it has always been a challenge to find the right balance between designing a rover wheel with high traction capabilities and low power requirements. More recently, researchers invented the idea of a reconfigurable wheel which would have the ability to change its shape to adapt to the type of terrain it was on. In challenging terrain environments, the wheel could configure to a size that would maximize traction. In less challenging terrain environments, the wheel could configure to a size that would minimize power. Theoretical simulation showed that the use of reconfigurable wheels could improve tractive performance and some initial prototyping and experimental testing corroborated those findings. The purpose of this project was to extend that prototyping and experimenting. Four reconfigurable wheels were designed, built, and integrated onto an actual rover platform. A control methodology whereby the wheels could autonomously reconfigure was also designed, implemented, and demonstrated. The rover was then tested in a simulated Martian environment to assess the effectiveness of the reconfigurable wheels. During the tests, the power consumption and the distance traveled by the rover were both measured and recorded. In all tests, the wheels were able to successfully reconfigure and the rover continued to advance forward; but as was expected, the reconfigurable wheel system consumed more power than a non-reconfigurable wheel system. In the end, the results showed that if maximizing vehicle traction was weighed more heavily than minimizing power consumption, the use of reconfigurable wheels yielded a net gain in performance. en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibility by Brittany Baker. en_US
dc.format.extent 112 p. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.rights M.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission. en_US
dc.rights.uri http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/7582 en_US
dc.subject Aeronautics and Astronautics. en_US
dc.title Reconfigurable wheels : re-inventing the wheel for the next generation of planetary rovers en_US
dc.title.alternative Re-inventing the wheel for the next generation of planetary rovers en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.description.degree S.M. en_US
dc.contributor.department Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics. en_US
dc.identifier.oclc 795183078 en_US


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