DOI: 1911.00079Oct 31, 2019Paper

A resistive force model of legged locomotion on granular media

Chen LiDaniel I Goldman


Compared to agile legged animals, wheeled and tracked vehicles often suffer large performance loss on granular surfaces like sand and gravel. Understanding the mechanics of legged locomotion on granular media can aid the development of legged robots with improved mobility on granular surfaces; however, no general force model yet exists for granular media to predict ground reaction forces during complex limb intrusions. Inspired by a recent study of sand-swimming, we develop a resistive force model in the vertical plane for legged locomotion on granular media. We divide an intruder of complex morphology and kinematics, e.g., a bio-inspired robot L-leg rotated through uniform granular media (loosely packed ~ 1 mm diameter poppy seeds), into small segments, and measure stresses as a function of depth, orientation, and direction of motion using a model leg segment. Summation of segmental forces over the intruder predicts the net forces on both an L-leg and a reversed L-leg rotated through granular media with better accuracy than using simple one-dimensional penetration and drag force models. A multi-body dynamic simulation using the resistive force model predicts the speeds of a small legged robot (15 cm, 150 g) moving on granula...Continue Reading

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