The United States Army began developing Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV) in the early 1900’s. Concurrently, researchers developed and enhanced passenger and commercial ground vehicles. Although significant progress has been made for improving vehicle mobility for all ground vehicles throughout the past century, mobility has lacked a concise mutually agreed definition and analytical standardized criteria. The implementations of improved technologies, such as vehicle traction control, stability control, and torque vectoring systems require researchers to take a step back and reevaluate mobility criteria. UGVs require additional enhancement to include on-line mobility estimation since the vehicle cannot predict nor anticipate terrain conditions on their own prior to the vehicle traversing those conditions.
This paper analyzes methodologies researchers have employed for defining and improving vehicle mobility of wheeled vehicles. The analysis is done from a view point of concurrent mobility methodologies’ enhancement and applicability to wheeled UGVs.
This analysis is then used to develop off-line and on-line analytical criterion for mobility estimation, and to derive a strategy which can be applied to wheeled vehicles, both manned and unmanned. The on-line mobility estimation enables the UGV to make control changes as the events occur rather than after the event, causing the vehicle to then optimize its reaction to regain control.