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This paper provides a methodology for the estimation of resistance, thrust, and resistive torques on each wheel of a rigid-wheeled vehicle generated at the vehicle-terrain interface, and from these forces and moments, a methodology to estimate terrain parameters is presented. Terrain force estimation, which is independent of a terrain model, can infer the ability to accelerate, climb, or tow a load independent of the underlying terrain properties. When a terrain model is available, parameters of that model, such as soil cohesion, friction angle, maximum normal stress, and stress distribution parameters, are determined from estimated vehicle-terrain forces using a multiple-model estimation approach, providing parameters that relate to accepted mobility metrics. The methodology requires a standard proprioceptive sensor suite-accelerometers, rate gyros, wheel speeds, motor torques, and ground speed. Sinkage sensors are not required. Simulation results demonstrate efficacy of the method on three terrains spanning a range of soil cohesions reported in the literature.
Date of Publication: June 2009