Multi-Material Anisotropic Friction Wheels for Omnidirectional Ground Vehicles
Genya Ishigami*, Jim Overholt**, and Karl Iagnemma***
*Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, 3-1-1 Yoshinodai, Sagamihara, Kanagawa 252-5210, Japan
**United States Army TARDEC, 6501 E. 11 Mile Road, Warren, MI 48397, USA
***Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
In this paper, a novel wheel design utilizing the anisotropic friction property for omnidirectional vehicles is presented. The proposed wheel has a series of bendable “nodes” on its circumference, each of which is made of two materials with differing friction properties: one material exhibits high friction, and the other exhibits low friction. The high friction section of the node generates a high traction force, while the low friction section enables the wheel to passively skid. The wheels are arranged such that the robot wheel exhibits high traction in its drive direction (much like a conventional tire), but low traction when sliding laterally. Exploiting this “anisotropic friction” property, the proposed wheel enables a vehicle to realize omnidirectional motion (i.e., the vehicle can move any direction within the plane – forward, back, or laterally). While many other omnidirectional wheel drives exist, the proposed wheel is simpler than any other existing design because the wheel is composed of a single, moldable element. This paper summarizes the design of the proposed wheel and presents experimental comparisons between an omnidirectional robot using the proposed wheel and an omnidirectional robot using conventional wheels.
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