Articles | Volume 3, issue 2
Review article
12 Jul 2012
Review article |  | 12 Jul 2012

Review article: locomotion systems for ground mobile robots in unstructured environments

L. Bruzzone and G. Quaglia

Abstract. The world market of mobile robotics is expected to increase substantially in the next 20 yr, surpassing the market of industrial robotics in terms of units and sales. Important fields of application are homeland security, surveillance, demining, reconnaissance in dangerous situations, and agriculture. The design of the locomotion systems of mobile robots for unstructured environments is generally complex, particularly when they are required to move on uneven or soft terrains, or to climb obstacles. This paper sets out to analyse the state-of-the-art of locomotion mechanisms for ground mobile robots, focussing on solutions for unstructured environments, in order to help designers to select the optimal solution for specific operating requirements. The three main categories of locomotion systems (wheeled – W, tracked – T and legged – L) and the four hybrid categories that can be derived by combining these main locomotion systems are discussed with reference to maximum speed, obstacle-crossing capability, step/stair climbing capability, slope climbing capability, walking capability on soft terrains, walking capability on uneven terrains, energy efficiency, mechanical complexity, control complexity and technology readiness. The current and future trends of mobile robotics are also outlined.