Development of an Off-Road Capable Tire Model for Vehicle Dynamics Simulations

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Virginia Tech


The tire is one of the most complex subsystems of the vehicle. It is, however, the least understood of all the components of a car. Without a good tire model, the vehicle simulation handling response will not be realistic, especially for maneuvers that require a combination of braking/traction and cornering. Most of the simplified theoretical developments in tire modeling, however, have been limited to on-road tire models. With the availability of powerful computers, it can be noted that majority of the work done in the development of off-road tire models have mostly been focused on creating better Finite Element, Discrete Element, or Boundary Element models.

The research conducted in this study deals with the development of a simplified tire brush-based tire model for on-road simulation, together with a simplified off-road wheel/tire model that has the capability to revert back to on-road trend of behavior on firmer soils. The on-road tire model is developed based on observations and insight of empirical data collected by NHSTA throughout the years, while the off-road tire model is developed based on observations of experimental data and photographic evidence collected by various terramechanics researchers within the last few decades.

The tire model was developed to be used in vehicle dynamics simulations for engineering mobility analysis. Vehicle-terrain interaction is a complex phenomena governed by soil mechanical behavior and tire deformation. The theoretical analysis involved in the development of the wheel/ tire model relies on application of existing soil mechanics theories based on strip loads to determine the tangential and radial stresses on the soil-wheel interface. Using theoretical analysis and empirical data, the tire deformation geometry is determined to establish the tractive forces in off-road operation.

To illustrate the capabilities of the models developed, a rigid wheel and a flexible tire on deformable terrain is implemented and output of the model was computed for different types of soils; a very loose and deformable sandy terrain and a very firm and cohesive Yolo loam terrain. The behavior of the wheel/tire model on the two types of soil is discussed. The outcome of this work shows results that correlate well with the insight from experimental data collected by various terramechanics researchers throughout the years, which is an indication that the model presented can be used as a subsystem in the modeling of vehicle-terrain interaction to acquire more insight into the coupling between the tire and the terrain.



tire model, Terramechanics, vehicle dynamics, off-road