Motion Analysis System for Robot Traction Device Evaluation and Design
Though much research has been conducted regarding traction of tires in soft granular terrain, little empirical data exist on the motion of soil particles be- neath a tire. A novel experimentation and analysis technique has been developed to enable detailed investigation of robot interactions with granular soil. This technique, the Shear Interface Imaging Analysis method, provides visualization and analysis capability of soil shearing and flow as it is influenced by a wheel or excavation tool. The method places a half-width implement (wheel, excavation bucket, etc.) of symmetrical design in granular soil up against a transparent glass side- wall. During controlled motion of the implement, high-speed images are taken of the sub-surface soil, and are processed via optical flow software. The resulting soil displacement field is of very high fidelity and can be used for various analysis types. Identification of clusters of soil motion, shear interfaces and shearing direction/magnitude allow for analysis of the soil mechanics governing traction. The Shear Interface Imaging Analysis Tool enables analysis of robot-soil interactions in richer detail than possible before. Prior state-of-art technique relied on long- exposure images that provided only qualitative insight, while the new processing technique identifies sub-millimeter gradations in motion and can do so even for high frequency changes in motion. Results are presented for various wheel types and locomotion modes: small/large diameter, rigid/compliant rim, grouser implementation, and push-roll locomotion.