Mobile robotic devices and other mobility related drive systems are often relegated to one of the two classes of devices available today: wheeled devices or tracked devices. Wheeled systems are more energy efficient and reliable than tracked systems, but existing designs have drawbacks related to rough-terrain driving and maneuvering in tight spaces.

In this paper we describe the design and development of a drive system named the Single Motor Propelled Drive-train (SiMPl-D), which can potentially improve maneuvering over rough terrain and in tight spaces compared to traditional wheeled robots. SiMPl-D has two prominent features: a single drive motor, which provides both propulsion and turning, and is suspended under the center of mass of the device on a swingarm, which is linked through a suspension system to caster wheels; and it has reconfigurable drive wheel, which changes the turning radius of the device.

Due to these features, SiMPl-D can traverse a wide range of terrain while remaining energy and cost efficient. SiMPl-D has been successfully used in an indoor/outdoor low-cost personal mobility device and is currently being implemented in other robotic mobility applications.

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