Mobile robots are increasingly being used in high-risk, rough terrain situations, such as planetary exploration and military applications. Current control and localization algorithms are not well suited to rough terrain, since they generally do not consider the physical characteristics of the vehicle and of its environment. Poor attention has been devoted to the study of the dynamic ill-effects occurring at the wheel-terrain interface, such as slip and sinkage. These effects compromise odometry accuracy and traction performances leading to danger of entrapment with consequent mission failure. This paper describes methods for wheel slippage and sinkage detection aiming at improving vehicle mobility on highly challenging terrain. Novel measures for wheel slip detection are presented based on observing different sensor modalities implemented onboard and defining deterministic conditions for vehicle slippage. A vision-based algorithm for wheel sinkage estimation is also discussed based on edge detection strategy. Experimental results, obtained by a Mars rover-type robot operating in a rough-terrain environment, are presented. It is shown that these techniques are effective in detecting the dynamic effects due to wheel-terrain interaction and can lead to an efficient understanding of the vehicle physical behavior.

T. Huntsberger, H. Aghazarian, Y. Cheng, E. Baumgartner, E. Tunstel, C. Leger, A. Trebi-Ollennu, and P. Schenker, “Rover Autonomy for long Range Navigation and Science Data Acquisition on Planetary Surfaces.” Proc. Int. Conf. on Robotics and Automation, Washington, DC, May 2002.
L. Ojeda, G. Reina, and J. Borenstein, “Experimental Results from FLEXnav: An Expert Rule-based Deadreckoning System for Mars Rovers.” Proc. IEEE Aerospace Conf., Big Sky, MT, USA, March 5–14, 2004.
K. Iagnemma, and S. Dubowsky, “Mobile Robot Rough-Terrain Control (RTC) for Planetary Exploration.” Proc. ASME Biennial Mechanisms and Robotics Conf., 2000.
K. Iagnemma, C. Brooks, and S. Dubowsky, “Visual, Tactile, and Vibration-Based Terrain Analysis for Planetary Rovers.” Proc. of the IEEE Aerospace Conf., Big Sky, MT, USA, March 5–14, 2004.
Tunstel et al, “FIDO Rover System Enhancements for High-Fidelity Mission Simulations.” Proc. 7th Int. Conf. on Intelligent Autonomous Systems (IAS-7), Marina del Rey, CA, Mar 25–27, 2002, pp. 349–356.
G. Bekker, Introduction to Terrain-Vehicle Systems, University of Michigan Press, 1969.
G. Reina, “Rough Terrain Mobile Robot Localization and Traversability with applications to Planetary Explorations.” PhD Thesis, Politecnico of Bari, 2004.
L. Ojeda, G. Reina, D. Cruz, and J. Borenstein, “The FLEXnav Precision Dead-reckoning System.” Accepted for publication in the Int. Journal of Vehicle Autonomous Systems.
This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.