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DEVELOPMENT OF A SIX DEGREE OF FREEDOM

TRACKED VEHICLE MODEL


Purdy D J
Engineering Systems Department, Defence College of Management and Technology, Cranfield University, Shrivenham,
Swindon, Wiltshire, SN6 7HY, United Kingdom.

Tel: 01793 785352 Fax: 01793 783192 E-mail:d.j.purdy@cranfield.ac.uk

Keywords: Tracked Vehicle, Modelling, Simulation, possible to control the steer input to achieve any radius of
Handling, Stability. curvature between straight ahead and an upper limit (tightest
turn). With older skid steered vehicle there is commonly only
Abstract one (and unusually two) fixed steer ratio for each of the gears.
Thus at high speed in a particular gear it is possible to initiate
In this work a six degree of freedom tracked vehicle model is a turn, which is too severe for the given conditions. One of
developed, with longitudinal, lateral, bounce, roll, pitch and the other problems applicable to both old and new vehicle
yaw motions of the hull. A suspension system is incorporated transmissions is that if a bend is approached in too high a
into the model, which allows the forces on the vehicle hull gear, then there may be insufficient steer ratio to get round the
and between the track and ground to be determined. The bend (running wide) requiring one or more downward gear
model is validated using data from a steady state handling shifts. An introduction to tracked vehicle steering for both the
trial that was undertaken on a Combat Vehicle low and high-speed case is given in [4,5].
Reconnaissance (Tracked) CVR(T). From simulations of the In the study presented here a six degree of freedom model
model it is shown that the stability of the vehicle reduces as of a tracked vehicle, Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance
the speed increases and on low friction surfaces. (Tracked) CVR(T), is developed. A CVR(T) is a low mass,
approximately 10,000 kg, military tracked vehicle shown in
Figure 1. This vehicle has five wheel stations, which have
1 Introduction torsion bar suspension system utilising trailing arms and
dampers on the first and last wheel stations only. Damping on
The majority of tracked vehicles operated by the military are the inner wheel stations being parasitic caused by the rotation
capable of travelling at relatively high speed, over 80 km/h in of the trailing arms in their bearings.
some cases. The possibility of this high speed, the nature of The steering system employed in the CVR(T) is of a fixed
the steering system and the inexperience of the drivers results ratio type in each gear, Table 1. The model developed is
in a number of accidents each year. The size and weight of partially validated against a steady state handling data
military tracked vehicles, greater than 60,000 kg for the presented in [4], for third gear up to a lateral acceleration
British Challenger 2 main battle tank, can result in significant (latac) of about 0.34g.
amounts of damage and personal injury when an accident The model is used to investigate the motion of the hull
does occur. during cornering on low friction surfaces and at different
The vast majority of high-speed military tracked vehicles speeds.
employ skid steering to change their direction. The mechanics
of skid steering are complex and the resulting equations are
sufficiently non-linear to prevent linearisation techniques
being applied successfully. Thus, the fundamental handling
characteristics of tracked vehicle are significantly more
difficult to establish theoretically than for wheeled vehicles
[1-6]. The reason for this greater complexity is the sliding
(skidding) interface between the track and ground, which
occurs during turning. To simplify this most of the workers in
this field have assumed a hard level surface for the
investigation [1-6].
When a skid steer tracked vehicle is in a steady turn the
outer track sprocket is rotating faster than the inner. The ratio
of the outer to the inner sprocket angular speed is called the
steer ratio, n and is analogous to the steer angle of the front
wheels of a wheeled vehicle. For modern tracked vehicles, for Figure 1. Photograph of CVR(T).
example the British Challenger 2 and Warrior the steer ratio
can be varied infinitely between two limits [7], thus it is
Gear Max Speed m/s# Steer Ratio n Turn Radius* m A top level simulation diagram of the vehicle model is
shown in Figure 3. The transmission model is assumed to
1 1.11 7.2 1.71
consist of a first order lags with time constants of 1.0 second
2 2.50 2.1 3.84 acting between the commands from the driver and the
3 3.61 1.6 (1.69◊) 5.33 sprocket output. The external forces, which are not used in
this investigation, are to allow the affect of forces other than
4 5.83 1.32 8.9 through the tracks to be included, for example; aerodynamic,
5 10.55 1.18 16.06 towing or gravity when on an incline. The next three
subsection will describe the models for the; suspension, hull
6 14.61 1.14 21.28
and tracks.
7 21.66 1.09 33.22
Table 1. CVR(T) steering data, *manufacturer’s data,
◊experimentally determined, #estimated.

Parameter Value Parameter Value


Hull Mass 7938 kg Suspension 70.5
Stiffness* kN/m
Roll Inertia* 2230 kgm2 Suspension 7.0, 0.3
Damping* kNs/m
Pitch Inertia* 10970 kgm2 Distance 1.7 m
between wheels
Figure 3. Simulation diagram of the vehicle model.
Yaw Inertia* 12006 kgm2 Length of track 2.6 m
on ground
2.1 Hull Model
Number of 10 Height of Centre 0.9 m
Wheel of Mass* The hull model, without the suspension system, has been
Stations created in ProPac [8,9], which allows a multibody dynamic
Table 2. Main CVR(T) data, *estimated or assumed. model to be generated in Mathematica [10] and c-code to be
generated. The resulting c-code is then compiled and forms an
s-function block within Matlab/Simulink [11]. Using ProPac
2 Vehicle Model removes the problem of forming the model from first
principles and the difficulties of implementing and debugging
In this section a brief description of the vehicle model is
it. The model building process allows the user control over
given. The model has six degrees of freedom, Figure 2, these
the assumptions that are built into the model, i.e. small angles
being; rectilinear motions – longitudinal, lateral and bounce,
and motions, and thus the resulting model complexity. In this
and rotary motions – roll, pitch and yaw. The track model is
case no simplifying assumptions have been made. The
based on that given in [4] but has been broken into sections to
equations for the hull are omitted from the paper due to their
represent each wheel station. The main assumptions in the
complexity.
model are;
The external forces acting on the hull and those in the
suspension system are handled in Matlab/Simulink using
1 Smooth, rigid, level ground.
either the inbuilt functions or in the case of the tracks another
2 Coulomb friction model, between track and ground.
s-function. Thus the resulting model is a hybrid, using the
3 Vehicle centre of mass at plan centre of vehicle.
most appropriate tool for each part.
4 No external forces applied to the vehicle other than
from the tracks on the ground.
5 Uniformly loaded, laterally rigid track. 2.2 Suspension Model
The suspension system, for each wheel station, is modelled as
shown in Figure 4, which incorporates a spring and damper at
each wheel station. The spring rates are the same at each
wheel station and only the first and last wheel stations have
dampers attached, while parasitic damping is added to the
remaining wheel stations, Table 2. In this model zsi and zgi are
the displacements of the hull and track at the wheel station,
and ksi and csi are the wheel station stiffness and damping.
The force in the suspension system is given by;
Fsi = ksi zsi + csi zsi Fsi ≥ 0 or Fsi = 0 Fsi < 0 (1)
In this equation the force between the track and ground is
prevented from going negative. The force in the suspension is
applied to both the body and the track model for that wheel
station, thus allowing body motion and track shear forces to
Figure 2. Vehicle axis system. be determined.
The vehicle handling trial was conducted at the Defence
College for Management and Technology DCMT, formally
the Royal Military College of Science RMCS [4]. The
investigation involved driving the vehicle in third gear, Table
1, with the steering system engaged at a range of speeds.
These runs produced data for the speed, lateral acceleration
and radius of turn for the vehicle. The results of this test and
the output from the simulation are plotted in Figure 6. The
simulated results used a coefficient of friction between the
Figure 4. CVR(T) wheel station model. tracks and the ground of 0.84.
The experimental data show that as the lateral acceleration
2.3 Track Model of the vehicle increases the radius of turn also increases. The
initial rate of increase is 2.4 m/g [4], the implication being
A diagram showing the track ground interface is shown in that the vehicle is initially understeering. The simulated
Figure 5. The axis system for the track is given by; xt, yt and responses show a good correlation with the experimental data,
ψt, with xi the distance to a track-link. In this diagram the up to where the trial finished. This gives a reasonable level of
highlighted track element (link) has longitudinal and lateral confidence that the model developed is capable of
sliding velocities given by; reproducing the steady state handling characteristics up to
uts = u − Rsωs and vtsi = v + xi r (2) 0.34g lateral acceleration. The simulated data then show the
vehicle going into oversteer just under 0.5g.
Where Rs and ωs are the sprocket radius and speed of rotation.
The longitudinal speed of the track being determined from the
output of the transmission. The direction of sliding of the link
and its speed are;
⎛ v si ⎞
α ti = tan −1 ⎜ t s ⎟ and Vt si = uts 2 + vtsi 2 (3)
⎝ t ⎠
u
The sliding motion at the track ground interface is opposed by
Coulomb friction, the components of which are;
( ) ( )
Fxti = − Ft i cos α ti and Fyti = − Ft i sin α ti (4)
The vertical force on the track link for this wheel station
being derived from the suspension force and the number of
links and is given by;
F
Fzli = zsi (5)
nsi
Where Fzsi and nsi are the suspension force and number of
track-links for the ith wheel station. This process is repeated
for all the links in each wheel station and then the force and Figure 6. Radius of turn against latac for third gear, o –
moments can be determined, these being; experimental data and continuous lines simulation.
Fxt = ∑ Fxti , Fyt = ∑ Fyti and M zt = ∑ xi Fyti (6)
i i i
4 Model Responses
A small sample of the simulated response of the CVR(T)
model are presented in this section. The first set of responses
are for third gear at the maximum speed given in Table 1 and
two values of coefficient of friction between the track and
ground. The final response is for sixth gear at two speeds.

4.1 Effect of Friction


The cornering response of the vehicle for two different values
Figure 5. Track model.
for the coefficient of friction, 0.84 and 0.17, are shown in
Figures 7 to 9. The motion of the vehicle over the ground is
3 Model Validation displayed in Figure 6, where the effect on the motion of the
vehicle is clearly seen. At the higher level of friction the
In this section the assembled vehicle model is simulated for vehicle corners as expected, with the final motion being at a
the CVR(T) and the resulting output is compared to constant radius of about 6.0m. At the reduced level of friction
experimental data for the vehicle undertaking a steady state the vehicle goes through a transitional phase, which shows a
handling trial. The key data for the tracked vehicle simulation characteristic loop [6] in the response before settling down to
is given in Table 2, where assumed or estimated data is a constant radius of almost 4.0m. This is the onset of an
highlighted. oversteer response with the vehicle starting to “spin out”
before settling down to a new smaller radius of turn.
The initial loop shown in the low friction results, Figure 7,
corresponds to a rapid increase in the side slip angle of the
vehicle, Figure 8. This type of response is expected also and
typical of some wheeled vehicles on low friction surfaces. At
its peak the side slip angle is just over -70°, thus the vehicle is
almost going side ways. The overshoot in the response is
virtually 50% indicating a damping ratio of 0.2. The side slip
angle then decays sinusoidally to a final value just over -45°.
In contrast at the higher level of friction the side slip increases
to about -4° without overshoot.
The effect on roll angle is given in Figure 9. At the higher
friction value the roll angle increases to just almost -2° again
without overshoot. With the lower value of friction the final
roll angle is about -0.8°, which is less than the high friction
results because the vehicle has rotated around so that it is
pointing more towards the centre of turn. Interestingly the roll
angle now overshoots its final value by about 40%. This
indicates a damping ratio of almost 0.3, thus the overdamped Figure 9. Simulated roll angle for the tracked vehicle
motion at high friction has become underdamped at low cornering in third gear at 3.61 m/s with two levels of friction.
values of friction. This reduction in the stability of the vehicle
is caused by the coupling together of the motions of the hull As a tracked vehicle is being driven around a corner and
and horizontal track forces. encounters a surface with a reduced friction coefficient, due
to water, oil or mud etc. on the roads surface, than it is
possible that the driver could lose control even if travelling at
a relatively low speed. Anecdotal evidence from drivers of
tracked vehicles, suggests that once this type of motion is
initiated then there is little they can do until the vehicle comes
to rest.

4.2 Effect of Speed


In the previous section the effect of reduced friction was
considered at low speed, in this part the influence of speed at
the higher friction level is briefly examined. A simulation of
pitch angle motion in a corner is shown in Figure 10. In this
plot the vehicle is in sixth gear when the corner is initiated at
50 and 60% of the maximum speed, Table 1.
In Figure 10, it is seen that the damping (stability) of the
Figure 7. Simulation of the tracked vehicle showing the path hull motion reduces with speed. At 50% maximum speed the
over the ground while cornering in third gear at 3.61 m/s with damping is relatively low and when increased to 60% the
two levels of friction. damping approaches zero for this vehicle. While there is some
anecdotal evidence for short tracked vehicles becoming
“twitchy” at speed, which may be indicated by this study, it is
felt that such a rapid reduction in the effective hull motion
damping with speed would have been reported by the crews.

4.3 Final Remarks on the Responses


The responses at low levels of friction and high speed must be
viewed with some caution because they are the result of
simulation studies with the model being validated for steady
state cornering only [4]. The experimental validation of the
results given here could be difficult because of the dangers
and cost involved. Bearing this in mind, the simulated
responses clearly show that at higher speed and on reduced
friction surfaces the vehicle has a tendency to become less
stable.

Figure 8. Simulated side slip angle for the tracked vehicle


cornering in third gear at 3.61 m/s with two levels of friction.
[9] ProPac, Techno-Sciences, Inc, Lanham, MD.
[10] Wolfram Research, Inc., Mathematica, Champaign,
Illinois.
[11] Matlab and Simulink, The MathWorks, Inc, Natick,
MA, USA.

Figure 10. Simulated pitch angle response for 50 and 60%


maximum speed in sixth gear.

5 Conclusion
In this work a six degree of freedom tracked vehicle model
for a CVR(T) has been developed and validated against
steady state handling data.
It was shown that at low latac the vehicle initially understeers
before going into oversteer at higher latac.
It has been demonstrated by simulation that the vehicle
becomes less stable at higher speed and on low friction
surfaces.

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