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A high-fidelity approach for vehicle mobility simulation: Nonlinear finite element tires operating on granular material

Antonio Recuero, Radu Serban, Bryan Peterson, Hiroyuki Sugiyama, Paramsothy Jayakumar, Dan Negrut  

Journal of Terramechanics, Volume 72, August 2017, Pages 39-54, ISSN 0022-4898,  
Assessing the mobility of off-road vehicles is a complex task that most often falls back on semi-empirical approaches to quantifying the vehicle–terrain interaction. Herein, we concentrate on physics-based methodologies for wheeled vehicle mobility that factor in both tire flexibility and terrain deformation within a fully three-dimensional multibody system approach. We represent the tire based on the absolute nodal coordinate formulation (ANCF), a nonlinear finite element approach that captures multi-layered, orthotropic shell elements constrained to the wheel rim. The soil is modeled as a collection of discrete elements that interact through contact, friction, and cohesive forces. The resulting vehicle/tire/terrain interaction problem has several millions of degrees of freedom and is solved in an explicit co-simulation framework, built upon and now available in the open-source multi-physics package Chrono. The co-simulation infrastructure is developed using a Message Passing Interface (MPI) layer for inter-system communication and synchronization, with additional parallelism leveraged through a shared-memory paradigm. The formulation and software framework presented in this investigation are proposed for the analysis of the dynamics of off-road wheeled vehicle mobility. Its application is demonstrated by numerical sensitivity studies on available drawbar pull, terrain resistance, and sinkage with respect to parameters such as tire inflation pressure and soil cohesion. The influence of a rigid tire assumption on mobility is also discussed.  
Keywords: Mobility; Off-road vehicle dynamics; Nonlinear finite element; ANCF; Discrete element method; Chrono; Co-simulation; High-performance computing