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Improving Tractive Efficiency By Integrating the Steering and Drive Systems of Four-Wheeled Vehicles

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  031058,  2003 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.13720) @2003
Authors:   Bernard C Besselink, John M Fielke
Keywords:   tractive efficiency, operation on slopes, performance testing, zero turn radius vehicle, steer by wire, computer control, drive systems

Four-wheeled vehicles that utilize two independent drive wheel speeds to drive and steer a vehicle, such as zero turn radius mowers, require the non-driven wheels to be castors. As these castors cannot resist side forces, such vehicles have difficulty traversing some steep slopes and maneuvering in slippery conditions. In order to obtain a second steering effect from the non-driven wheels, a computer integrated steering-drive system may be utilized to coordinate the drive wheel speeds with the steer angles of the steerable wheels that replace the castors. This concept can be applied to agricultural vehicles such as tractors, harvesters, mowers, sprayers and self-propelled windrowers. In order to determine whether such a system is practical, and to determine under which conditions such a machine is advantageous, a test bed vehicle was designed and produced. A description of the vehicle is provided. The test bed vehicle is able to be configured with a number of steering-drive systems types: open differential drive with steerable wheels, independent drive with castors, locked differential drive with steerable wheels and a computer integrated steering-drive system. The capacity of the test bed vehicle to be configured as described is a significant advantage when measuring tractive performance, as the results obtained will be more valid due to the vehicle parameters being the same.

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