Unmanned Rover for Astronaut Assistance

I was involved in the design and analysis of a rover for the University Rover Challenge 2022, to be held at the Mars Desert Research Station, Utah.

The competition imposes an operational weight limitation of 50 kg on the rover, and this proved to be one of the critical engineering problems that I and my team at AGV faced. I was tasked with the development of the wheels of the rover, and later got involved in the chassis design. I was also responsible for the final assembly.

I designed four wheels on my own and presented the work to senior members and the guiding professor. Most of my designs were based on NPT (non-pneumatic tires) which had several advantages over conventional tires (pneumatic) or metal ones (like the ones on Perseverance, Curiosity, and Spirit/Opportunity)

The designs were carefully scrutinized and analyzed on Ansys Static Structural, taking a generous factor of safety of 3.5 to 4, which is commonly used in automobiles. The material TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane) was chosen and its various grades were studied. The material definition was created for the simulation using data in preexisting literature for the corresponding grades selected. Results were satisfactory for all designs after a few minor tweaks, but the design on the far right (see panel below) was given the green light due to its low weight and optimal stiffness.

Advising Professors: Prof. Debashish Chakravarty and Prof. Aditya Bandopadhyay.

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