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Abstract

Multiple-wheel all-terrain vehicles without a steering system must use great amounts of power when skid steering. Skid steering is modeled with emphasis put on the ground contact forces of the wheels according to the mass distribution of the vehicle. To increase steering efficiency, it is possible to modify the distribution of the normal contact forces on the wheels. This paper focuses on two aspects: first, it provides a model and an experimental study of skid steering on an all-road 6 × 6 electric wheelchair, the Kokoon mobile platform. Second, it studies two configurations of the distribution of the normal forces on the six wheels, obtained via suspension adjustments. This was both modeled and experimented. Contact forces were measured with a six-component force plate. The first results show that skid steering can be substantially improved by only minor adjustments to the suspensions. This setting decreases the required longitudinal forces applied by the engines and improves the steering ability of the vehicle or robot. Skid-steering characteristic parameters, such as the position of the center of rotation and absorbed skid power, are also dealt with in this paper. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.