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Choosing the Best Locomotion Mode in Reconfigurable Rovers

1
Department of Systems Engineering and Automation, Universidad de Málaga, Andalucía Tech, 29071 Málaga, Spain
2
European Space Agency (ESA-ESTEC), 2201 AZ Noordwijk, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Electronics 2019, 8(7), 818; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8070818
Received: 13 June 2019 / Revised: 11 July 2019 / Accepted: 17 July 2019 / Published: 22 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Motion Planning and Control for Robotics)
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Abstract

The use of autonomous rovers for planetary exploration is crucial to traverse long distances and perform new discoveries on other planets. One of the most important issues is related to the interaction between the rover wheel and terrain, which would help to save energy and even avoid getting entrapped. The use of reconfigurable rovers with different locomotion modes has demonstrated improvement of traction and energy consumption. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to determine the best locomotion mode during the rover traverse, based on simple parameters, which would be obtained from propioceptive sensors. For this purpose, interaction of different terrains have been modelled and analysed with the ExoTeR, a scale prototype rover of the European ExoMars 2020 mission. This rover is able to perform, among others, the wheel walking locomotion mode, which has been demonstrated to improve traction in different situations. Currently, it is difficult to decide the instant time the rover has to switch from this locomotion mode to another. This paper also proposes a novel method to estimate the slip ratio, useful for deciding the best locomotion mode. Finally, results are obtained from an immersive simulation environment. It shows how each locomotion mode is suitable for different terrains and slopes and the proposed method is able to estimate the slip ratio. View Full-Text
Keywords: rovers; locomotion modes; planetary exploration rovers; locomotion modes; planetary exploration
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Pérez del Pulgar Mancebo, C.J.; Romeo Manrique, P.; Paz Delgado, G.J.; Sánchez Ibáñez, J.R.; Azkarate, M. Choosing the Best Locomotion Mode in Reconfigurable Rovers. Electronics 2019, 8, 818.

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