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Massively Parallel Granular Media Modeling of Robot-Terrain Interactions

[+] Author Affiliations
Rudranarayan M. Mukherjee, Ryan Houlihan

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

Paper No. DETC2012-71194, pp. 71-78; 8 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 6: 1st Biennial International Conference on Dynamics for Design; 14th International Conference on Advanced Vehicle Technologies
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 12–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4505-9
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


This paper presents select results that demonstrate the feasibility of modeling the interactions of robotic systems with granular terrain through Discrete Element Modeling (DEM) using massively parallel computing systems. We report numerical simulation results of full 3D DEM simulations with the granular material modeled as a deformable bed of spherical granules. The mobility systems of the robots retain their CAD geometry and are represented as triangular meshes. The inter-granular interactions and the interactions between the CAD mesh triangles with the granules are modeled explicitly using a deformation-damping force field. The parameters of the force field are derived from physically measurable properties. We model friction, cohesion, and shearing and other interactions among the granules, and between the CAD mesh and the granules. The simulations involve granular beds with number of granules in the order of several hundred thousand to several millions. Temporally, we report simulations in the order of several seconds. These simulations were run on parallel clusters with number of processors ranging from 100 to 256. We present the findings from a number of simulations ranging including wheeled and legged mobility systems, and robotic tools in micro-gravity environments.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME
Topics: Robots , Modeling



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