A report discusses the development of a computational model of a Mars Explorer Rover maneuvering across terrain under varying conditions. The model is used to increase understanding of the rover dynamics. Increased understanding is helpful in planning further tests and in extending the operational range of the rover to terrain conditions that would otherwise have to be avoided in a conservative approach. The model is implemented within MSC.ADAMS®, a commercial suite of computer programs for simulating a variety of automotive and aeronautical mechanical systems. Following its initial formulation, the model has been successively refined in an iterative process of simulation, testing on simulated terrain, correlation of simulation results with test results, and adjustment of model parameters to increase degrees of matching between simulation and test results. In particular, three aspects of the model have been refined, as follows:

  • Wheel radius, which was set to cancel effects of cleats, and of compliance and roughness of the ground surface;
  • A submodel of friction between the wheels and a high-friction mat used in the tests; and
  • A submodel of internal and external power losses that includes no-load power consumed by wheel mechanisms and nominal rolling resistance.

This work was done by Gary Ortiz and Randel Lindemann of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Mechanics/Machinery category.

The software used in this innovation is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-42547.


This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Simulation and Testing of Maneuvering of a Planetary Rover

(reference NPO-42547) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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