Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Detecting wheel slip from DC motor on low friction surface

  1. Jan 16, 2009 #1
    I am trying to figure out what would be the best way (by best way I mean the cheapest, and simplest effective way) to detect slippage of the wheel. The surface is very low friction, somewhere in the range of 0.05 mu.

    Here are my ideas:
    1. Sense current, watch for spikes/troughs
    2. monitor wheel speed with optical encoder and compare to velocity
    3. limit acceleration

    I do have a question about the current draw solution: what would happen to the current draw if the wheel were to lose traction? Would that be an effective indicator at all. If it would work, that would be my preferred option.

    What else could I use? Which of these would/wouldn't work?

    Thanks for your help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 16, 2009 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    "what would happen to the current draw if the wheel were to lose traction?"
    If you unload the motor, I would think the current would decrease.
  4. Jan 16, 2009 #3
    I suspected that as well, but I plan on doing some tests the next time I have a chance to work on this. Do you think the drop would be noticeable enough to use as a guideline?
  5. Jan 16, 2009 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I think so. You will probably get the same decrease when you slow down quickly however. So you will have to figure a way to determine the difference.
  6. Jan 16, 2009 #5
    I think comparing it to the pwm signal should do the job. I'll post the results after the tests, which will hopefully get done this weekend.

    Thanks for your help.
  7. Jan 16, 2009 #6
    Did you plan to use the electric motor to drive the wheel any way, or is the electric motor something you are adding purely to detect wheel slip? Your situation is not clear in this respect, and it does make a difference.
  8. Jan 16, 2009 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

  9. Jan 17, 2009 #8
    It is an electric drive train. The electric motors power drive wheels.

    robotics?... yeppers.
  10. Jan 17, 2009 #9
    #1 Probably not practical unless your surface is very uniform. Otherwise you'll see variations due to variations in the surface.

    #2 The voltage to the motor is already roughly proportional to the speed. It seems like the optical encoder would be redundant. How are you determining velocity in order to compare the optical encoder to it? It might make more sense to use the optical encoder on an undriven wheel to compare to the speed of the driven wheel or is that what you were trying to say?

    #3 Not a bad idea. The voltage across the DC motor is roughly proportional to the speed and the current is roughly proportional to the torque (They're very close if you take the losses of the motor into consideration). If you limit the current to the motor and thus the torque, slipping should be less of a problem. (I once had a car that had a button on the shifter (automatic transmission) that would keep the transmission out of first gear in order to make starting on ice easier)
  11. Jan 17, 2009 #10
    1: The surface is very uniform, otherwise I wouldn't have considered it either.
    2: Encoder to determine wheel speed. Accelerometer to back calculate velocity (or possibly just use the acceleration). I have considered your suggestion as well, but don't have room for the undriven wheel.
    3: Yes, that could be a better use of a current sensor.
  12. Jan 17, 2009 #11


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I am also working on this problem. See the big picture http://www.usfirst.org/community/frc/content.aspx?id=418" [Broken] (watch the center clip on the right for a description of the game.

    There are some rotary encoders in the kit of parts so we should be able to get good info on wheel speed. Also there is an accelerometer and a gyro which should be able to track the exact speed and orientation of the bot.

    I am hoping to set a max ramp rate on the wheel speed. We just need to find the max acceleration possible without slip. And do some labview work.

    I was dreaming of four wheel drive and steering but the limitation on the number and type of allowed motors is making this is impossible.

    Good luck
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  13. Jan 18, 2009 #12
    Yes, the motor limit is ruining many of my plans as well.

    Good luck to you as well, what team/regional(s)?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Threads - Detecting wheel slip Date
Photodiode for light detection Aug 29, 2017
Holiday project goals for undergrads with an FPGA? Aug 16, 2017
Infrared detection Apr 10, 2017
Electromagnetic Induction Help Requested Mar 21, 2016