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Systematic design and development of a flexible wheel for low mass lunar rover

Gaurav Sharma, Sidharth Tiwary, Abhishek Kumar, H.N. Suresha Kumar, K.A. Keshava Murthy,

Volume 76, 2018, Pages 39-52, ISSN 0022-4898,

Abstract: Low mass compact rovers provide cost effective means to explore extra-terrestrial terrains. Use of flexible wheels in such applications where the wheel size is restricted, improves traction at reduced slip and sinkage. Design of a flexible wheel for a given mission is a challenging task requiring consideration of stiffness of rim and spokes, stress induced in the wheel, chassis movement during wheel rotation and the operating mode of the wheel. Also, accurate mathematical models are required to save design and development time and reduce the number of prototypes for selection. It is observed that most of the research papers deal with performance testing of flexible wheels and information on analytical formulation is scarce. Therefore, in the present work, a methodology has been formulated to systematically design a flexible wheel for a low mass lunar rover. The prototype performance is tested and compared with analytical estimates and reasons for difference are investigated. Paper contains details of design criteria, mathematical modelling, realisation of wheel prototype, test fixture and analysis test comparison. Authors believe that this work provides a useful aid to the designer to systematically design flexible wheels for low mass lunar rovers.

Keywords: Lunar rover; Flexible wheel; Analysis; Testing