Study on grouser mechanism to directly detect sinkage of wheel during traversing loose soil for lunar exploration rovers

Kojiro Iizuka, Tatsuya Sasaki, Satoshi Suzuki, Takashi Kawamura, Takashi Kubota

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The rovers, which some researchers and agencies are developing, have many functions to sense a lot of information from peculiar environments like the lunar surface for localization, path planning and so on. On rough terrain, without artificial ground maintenance, like the lunar surface, the rovers avoid obstacles by using sensors, which they have. However, if the rovers traverse loose soil, like the planetary surface, there exists the sinking behavior. This sinkage is caused by the weight of the rover. At present the rover sensors are unable to sense it. Actually, Mars Exploration Rover (MER, NASA/JPL), during its exploration on Mars, was disabled because of this. If MER could have known the subsidence of each wheel in time, MER may have avoided this catastrophic condition. We therefore propose to have the grouser mechanism, which can detect sinkage of the wheels of rovers, installed on the wheels of rovers. The grouser mechanism is needed to traverse loose soil like lunar surface and mars surface. When the wheel rotates on loose soil, the resistance force from the loose soil is given to the grouser. However, initially, for the wheel contacts on the surface of loose soil, the resistance from the loose soil is small. We will develop the grouser mechanism with a function that can detect the whole range of the effective resistance force from loose soil including this small resistance force. This study moreover carries out experiments with various loads and verifies the effectiveness of the proposed mechanism, using pictures, of contact with the loose soil surface.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalROBOMECH Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Grousers
  • Loose soil
  • Lunar rovers
  • Sinkage
  • Wheel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Instrumentation
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Control and Optimization
  • Artificial Intelligence


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