Puli Space Technologies

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Field test #2: get more traction

Last week, we took out our latest rover for a second outdoor field test. The current Iteration 2 design is taking part in a month-long Mars simulation experiment next year, and has to pass various tests before the mission starts. This time I2 had to tackle steep, sandy hillsides by using its improved wheel design.


downhill rover

October the 23rd is a bank holiday in Hungary. This day the people remember the anti-soviet uprising of 1956, either by joining one of the various political rallies, or by testing a rover prototype outdoor in a sand workings. This year we chose the latter, and took our latest I2 rover design out to Dunakeszi, which is a convenient testing site for our team.

I2 sideview

The previous test identified that although the I2 tackles rough terrain and mild slopes with ease, the flat wheels have trouble conquering the more slippery slopes, as the traction is insufficient for reliable operation there. Luckily, automotive engineers have developed a simple solution to overcome this:

groused wheels

Grousers work well for construction vehicles like excavators or bulldozers, (but also for tanks and snowmobiles), which allow increased traction, and better coping with steep slopes or slippery surfaces. This is why Puli engineers fit metal cleats to the end of the wheels, allowing the I2 to literally tear up the track as it moves.

increased traction

Results are more than satisfactory: traction is greatly increased, and while not hindering efficient travel on flat surfaces, it allows significantly better movement on slopes. One of the next steps in testing will be to move the wheels further away from the rover body, in order to minimize the accumulation of dirt on the solar panels.

another slope conquered

Last Updated (Tuesday, 06 November 2012 08:28)

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