Design, Modeling, and Control of a Differential Drive Rimless Wheel That Can Move Straight and Turn




Sanchez, Sebastian
Bhounsule, Pranav A.

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A rimless wheel or a wheel without a rim, is the simplest example of a legged robot and is an ideal testbed to understand the mechanics of locomotion. This paper presents the design, modeling, and control of a differential drive rimless wheel robot that achieves straight-line movement and turning. The robot design comprises a central axis with two 10-spoked springy rimless wheels on either side and a central body that houses the electronics, motors, transmission, computers, and batteries. To move straight, both motors are commanded to constant pitch control of the central body. To turn while maintaining constant pitch, a differential current is added and subtracted from currents on either motor. In separate tests, the robot achieved the maximum speed of 4.3 m per sec (9.66 miles per hour), the lowest total cost of transport (power per unit weight per unit velocity) of 0.13, and a smallest turning radius of 0.5 m. A kinematics-based model for steering and a dynamics-based sagittal (fore-aft) plane model for forward movement is presented. Finally, parameters studies that influence the speed, torque, power, and energetics of locomotion are performed. A rimless wheel that can move straight and turn can potentially be used to navigate in constrained spaces such as homes and offices.



mobile robots, legged locomotion, robot control, rimless wheel, compliant locomotion, torso-actuation, turning, differential drive


Automation 2 (3): 98-115 (2021)


Mechanical Engineering