System Design and Control of a Di-Wheel Rover
Traditionally, wheeled rovers are used for planetary surface exploration and six-wheeled chassis designs based on the Rocker-Bogie suspension system have been tested successfully on Mars. However, it is difficult to explore craters and crevasses using large six or four-wheeled rovers. Innovative designs based on smaller Di-Wheel Rovers might be better suited for such challenging terrains. A Di-Wheel Rover is a self - balancing two-wheeled mobile robot that can move in all directions within a two-dimensional plane, as well as stand upright by balancing on two wheels.
This paper presents the outcomes of a feasibility study on a Di-Wheel Rover for planetary exploration missions. This includes developing its chassis design based on the hardware and software requirements, prototyping, and subsequent testing. The main contribution of this paper is the design of a self-balancing control system for the Di-Wheel Rover. This challenging design exercise was successfully completed through extensive experimentation thereby validating the performance of the Di-Wheel Rover. The details on the structural design, tuning controller gains based on an inverted pendulum model, and testing on different ground surfaces are described in this paper. The results presented in this paper give a new insight into designing low-cost Di-Wheel Rovers and clearly, there is a potential to use Di-Wheel Rovers for future planetary exploration.
KeywordsDi-Wheel rover Inverted pendulum Control system Planetary exploration
A special thanks to the University of Surrey lab technicians John Mouat, Alexander Todd, Steve Mills, and Andy Walker for their help and assistance with obtaining the equipment required for this study.
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