The U.S. Army TACOM-TARDEC developed and validated a high-fidelity six-degree-of-freedom model to use in a trade study for the development of a prototype autonomous vehicle. The model captures realistic dynamics of the six-wheeled, skid-steered vehicle along with the electrical, thermal, and mechanical response
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The U.S. Army TACOM-TARDEC developed and validated a high-fidelity six-degree-of-freedom model to use in a trade study for the development of a prototype autonomous vehicle. The model captures realistic dynamics of the six-wheeled, skid-steered vehicle along with the electrical, thermal, and mechanical response of a detailed series hybrid-electric power system with in-hub drive motors, lithium-ion battery, and generator linked to a diesel engine. These components were modeled and integrated via extensive power and energy component libraries developed for use with a high-fidelity software tool for dynamics modeling. Further, the vehicle model’s entire complement of components was integrated in a flexible configuration that allowed them to be readily adjusted or swapped out so the user could use the model to ascertain the relative effects of modifying the vehicle’s structural or power system components on specific vehicle evaluation criteria. Such criteria include the vehicle’s performance with high-speed stability, skid steering stability, body pitch/roll/dive/squat characteristics, braking capability, road/soft-soil traversal, and steering maneuverability.
The model captures both the on- and off-road mobility for the vehicle via use of an extensive library of various terrains including hard surface, sand, sandy loam, clay soil, and snow. Further, detailed waypointbased path navigation routines automate the vehicle’s traversal over a number of user-selectable courses including some established military courses such as Churchville-B, Perryman 1, 3, and A, and Munson with user-defined vehicle velocities. The model functions as an executable file run independent of any proprietary or close-source software; the user utilizes a simplified interface to vary any of the variables associated with the vehicle’s geometry, power system, course and speed to navigate, and terrain type applied to the course. The graphical view for the vehicle traversing the selected terrain is shown with an open source 3D graphics tool. The model was validated by applying the specifications in the model for the prototype vehicle of the first-generation of autonomous six-wheeled skid-steered vehicle, simulating the model in maneuvers identical to those the prototype vehicle performed, and comparing the simulated and actual results; the data matched and the model was successfully validated.
The vehicle model was designed primarily for the trade study for the design of a specific vehicle, but was created with sufficient flexibility and capability for modeling future vehicles as well. The interchangeability of the vehicle models’ components and environments allow a user to modify or replace the vehicle’s power system components, chassis masses, tires, transmission, duty cycles, courses to traverse, and many other aspects of the vehicle. Thus the user can essentially model any vehicle with similar types of components or structures and use that model to determine the impact of those elements upon many vehicle design considerations such as mass requirements, volume constraints, power system requirements, wheels design, suspension characteristics, and controls. Several new vehicle models are already being developed using this model’s flexibility and capability.