In this paper, a novel approach for online terrain characterisation is presented using a skid-steer vehicle. In the context of this research, terrain characterisation refers to the estimation of physical parameters that affects the terrain ability to support vehicular motion. These parameters are inferred from the modelling of the kinematic and dynamic behaviour of a skid-steer vehicle that reveals the underlying relationships governing the vehicle-terrain interaction. The concept of slip track is introduced as a measure of the slippage experienced by the vehicle during turning motion. The proposed terrain estimation system includes common onboard sensors, that is, wheel encoders, electrical current sensors and yaw rate gyroscope. Using these components, the system can characterise terrain online during normal vehicle operations. Experimental results obtained from different surfaces are presented to validate the system in the field showing its effectiveness and potential benefits to implement adaptive driving assistance systems or to automatically update the parameters of onboard control and planning algorithms.
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