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Do caterpillar treads offer any benefit on a hard surface?

  1. Sep 17, 2013 #1
    I am working with a team of fellow engineering students to design and build a small (probably less than eight inches in all dimensions) robot. We have not yet decided whether to use wheels or continuous tracks, and I have spent some time today trying to understand the physics of treads.

    The robot will be operating on a hard surface (probably either concrete or thin carpet). It will have to traverse a 30 degree ramp (up and down), made of wood. It will have to make several turns, but we are not concerned about turning slowly.

    Climbing the ramp, if my physics is sound, will depend entirely on the force exerted by the wheels/tread on the ramp, and the coefficient of static friction between the wheels/treads and the ramp. If this is true, then wheels should climb the ramp just as easily as treads. However, comments on robotics forums across the Internet claim that treads climb better than wheels.

    Who is right? Me, the Internet, neither, or both? Does anyone know have any suggestions for modelling the forces involved with a continous track?

    Thank you very much!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 18, 2013 #2


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    There are less drive components needed with track-layers as only one track drive sprocket needs to be driven on each side.

    Track-layers operate better when on soft ground, or on uneven hard ground.

    You need very soft suspension with wheel drive. With a two wheel drive vehicle you will have more problems transitioning between gradients as you can have a suspended drive wheel.
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