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Chapter 16: Agile Wheeled Mobile Robots for Service in Natural Environment - Pg. 295

295 Agile Wheeled Mobile Robots for Service in Natural Environment Jean-Christophe Fauroux Clermont University, France Belhassen-Chedli Bouzgarrou Clermont University, France Nicolas Bouton Clermont University, France Philippe Vaslin Clermont University, France Roland Lenain Clermont University, France Frédéric Chapelle Clermont University, France Chapter 16 ABSTRACT Although the wheeled locomotion proved to be very efficient on smooth grounds, it still encounters great difficulties in natural environments, where the ground is subject to wide variations in term of geometry (irregular surface, presence of obstacles...) and material properties (cohesion, grip condition...). This chapter presents recent developments and original systems that improve the capacities of wheeled mobile service robots on natural ground. First is considered the case of low speed motion. Section 2 presents recent results on reconfigurable suspensions that have two states and can decrease lateral friction and energy consumption during turns for skid-steering vehicles. Section 3 presents an original hybrid kinematics that combines wheels with an articulated frame for creating a mobile-wheeled robot with high obstacle-climbing capacities, using only one supplemental actuator. Other advances deal with high-speed motion. Section 4 describes a new device dedicated to vehicle dynamic stability, which improves lateral stability on fast mobile robots during turns and contributes to rollover prevention. Finally, Section 5 introduces innovative suspensions with two DOF for fast obstacle crossing. They damp vertical shocks, such as ordinary suspensions, but also horizontal ones, contribut- ing to tip-over prevention on irregular grounds that feature many steep obstacles. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0291-5.ch016 Copyright © 2012, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.