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This paper introduces a model-based approach to estimating longitudinal wheel slip and detecting immobilized conditions of autonomous mobile robots operating on outdoor terrain. A novel tire traction/braking model is presented and used to calculate vehicle dynamic forces in an extended Kalman filter framework. Estimates of external forces and robot velocity are derived using measurements from wheel encoders, inertial measurement unit, and GPS. Weak constraints are used to constrain the evolution of the resistive force estimate based upon physical reasoning. Experimental results show the technique accurately and rapidly detects robot immobilization conditions while providing estimates of the robot's velocity during normal driving. Immobilization detection is shown to be robust to uncertainty in tire model parameters. Accurate immobilization detection is demonstrated in the absence of GPS, indicating the algorithm is applicable for both terrestrial applications and space robotics.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2008