A mathematical model of track-wheel-terrain interaction is presented herein to support the dynamic simulation of tracked vehicles. This model combines approximate and known constitutive laws for terrain response with a new representation for the track element. The resulting track-wheel-terrain model allows the computation of the track tension and the normal and shear forces at the track-terrain interface as the track negotiates terrain of arbitrary profile. A key feature of this model is the uniform treatment of contact between the track and the roadwheels and the track and the terrain. Treating both contact problems in the same manner significantly simplifies the problem formulation and also reduces difficulties in computing points of track-wheel and track-terrain separation. The model takes the form of a two-point nonlinear boundary value problem that accounts for tension variations along the track (due to the non-uniformly distributed normal pressure and traction), track extensibility, and geometrically large (nonlinear) track deflections. Solutions are obtained using a finite element formulation. Both the model and the solution method are formulated with a view towards implementation within a multibody dynamics code for simulating a full vehicle. Several examples illustrate the capabilities of the proposed model.

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