Characterization of Soft Clay and Clay-tire Interaction for the Prediction of Ground Mobility

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Virginia Tech

Predicting tire performance on soft, fine-grained soils is required for many off-road explorations in the military, mining, agricultural, and earth-moving sectors. However, the mobility in deformable material is extremely challenging, especially in the presence of water. Although there is a significant amount of research on terrains such as sands, there is a lack of research on fine-grained soils. This research is part of a bigger project that presents a novel approach to improve the mobility of off-road vehicles on wet deformable soils. The approach integrates experimental data from small-scale soil testing, large-scale soil-tire interaction testing, and advanced physics-based numerical simulation techniques. In particular, this thesis attempts to characterize the clay-tire interface by conducting large-scale direct shear tests. In addition to clay-tire contact friction, the properties and strength parameters of the soft clay are determined by conducting various index properties and advanced tests. The testing program accounts for different stresses, loading conditions, and boundary conditions, decided taking into account real field conditions. The results from all these experiments will be used to calibrate and validate the material constitutive models required for the development of a mobility predictive numerical model. Overall, this study contributes to the development of more advanced and accurate terramechanics models that involve deformable terrains like soft clays.

Direct Shear tests, Tire mud interaction, Geotechnical Laboratory testing, terramechanics