Road and Terrain Characterization for Vehicle Dynamics and Mobility Analysis

Period of Performance: 04/03/2002 - 01/10/2003


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Systems Technology, Inc.
13766 Hawthorne Blvd. Array
Hawthorne, CA 90250
Principal Investigator


Ground vehicle dynamics analysis on off-road terrain is a classic and difficult problem. Vehicle suspension and structural dynamics are well understood, so given a well-characterized set of forcing functions, modern computer tools can be used to assess the impact of terrain on vehicle components. The problem therefore is to develop terrain models for vehicle simulation and analysis. Systems Technology, Inc. proposes to develop the Road and Terrain Characterization Toolbox (RTCT). This software tool will create a layered map built up from a selection of elevation profiles, terrain patches, roads, and non-random features. Each terrain patch will be modeled with a combination of deterministic, periodic and stochastic functions. A library of roads and terrain patches will be available, and a procedure for adding and developing new items for this library will be a part of the package including estimation of terrain model parameters from site-specific measurements. The non-random features of the map include everything else, from trees to houses. The location of these so-called non-random features can be deterministic or random. Creating forcing function inputs for vehicle simulations will be the main use of the RTCT. Visualization and aggregate terrain classification will also be important parts of the software package. The RTCT software toolbox will provide models for a wide variety of terrain elevation profiles with the most direct application of these profiles being real-time vehicle simulations for the US military. The larger market for the RTCT, however, resides in commercial vehicle manufacturing where the commercial benefits include better assessment techniques for vehicle component fatigue and driver/passenger comfort. The RTCT can also be applied to commercial driving simulators such as currently produced by STI.