Modelling Wheel-Soil Interaction for Planetary Rovers with EDEM-Adams (DEM-MBD)

Cristiano Pizzamiglio
Polytechnic University of Turin, Italy
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (DIMEAS)
Prof. Giancarlo Genta
11/2015 – 10/2018

The physical properties of Lunar and Martian soils can deeply affect the mobility of wheeled robotic rovers. For instance, the rigid wheels of the Mars Exploration Rover – A, also known as Spirit, became stuck at the Martian location called Troy due to low cohesion of the soil. As pointed out by several researchers, the tractive performance of flexible wheels on soft soil is higher with respect to rigid ones, thanks to the augmented contact area and, as a result, to the lower pressure exerted by the wheel on the ground.

The main purpose of this research is to study the mobility of a small rover with four flexible wheels on soft soil. The vehicle is an engineering model of a planetary rover developed by Team DIANA space robotics student group at Politecnico di Torino (Team Leaders Daniel Lippi and Vito Borrelli, Italy). A regolith simulant was provided by the company Altec S.p.A (Italy). With the aim of identifying the physical properties of the soil, geotechnical tests were performed at the “International Research School of Planetary Sciences” (Ph.D. Alessandra Cofano, Pescara, Italy).

The regolith simulant was modelled using the software EDEM and the rover-terrain interaction was modelled by means of the EDEM-MSC Adams co-simulation framework. In order to validate the results obtained with the EDEM-Adams co-simulations, a single wheel test bench was built and experimental tests were carried out.

INDUSTRY PARTNER – MSC Software (EDEM-Adams Co-Simulation)

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The EDEM software is an easy-to-use and extremely powerful tool for discrete element simulations. The EDEM-Adams (DEM-MBD) co-simulation framework works great! Moreover, the thing that I appreciated the most was the kindness of the whole EDEM Team. They were always available when I needed their support and help.

Cristiano Pizzamiglio Polytechnic University of Turin

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