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Unread 08-11-2012, 09:47 PM
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Coefficient of Friction Testing

I just published a post which highlights my method for calculating the coefficient of friction for robotic drivetrain systems.

Quote:
In my opinion... it is not sufficient to test the coefficient of friction of a single piece of tread, or a single wheel on carpet -- we need to test whole systems, and determine THEIR coefficient of friction. Only by testing the actual configuration of the robot you're going to use (i.e. the correct number of wheels, the correct tread contact size, the correct weight etc) will you get the correct coefficient of friction.
See full post here.

So this brings up my next question...
Who actually bothers to do this?

Does anyone? Is it just me?
Does your team have their own method?
Does your team just trust the manufacturer's specs?
Do you even care, or do you just say "this is grippy as heck" and not bother?

Please share.

Originally posted here.

Last edited by JVN : 08-11-2012 at 09:56 PM.
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Unread 08-11-2012, 09:57 PM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

Our team did calculate the COF on the wheels as I was having an argument with one of the mentors regarding the number of motors to use. Personally, I just used one wheel for the test.
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Last edited by davidthefat : 08-11-2012 at 09:59 PM. Reason: Grammar
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Unread 08-11-2012, 10:00 PM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidthefat View Post
Our team did calculate the COF on the wheels as I was having an argument with one of the mentors regarding the number of motors to use. Personally, I just used one wheel for the test.
Which wheels? What was your result?
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Unread 08-11-2012, 10:04 PM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

Quote:
Originally Posted by JVN View Post
Which wheels? What was your result?
These wheels were 29635T31 from McMasterCarr. The argument was whether or not these would slip; if they did slip, a second motor in the gearbox would be useless. I do not have the results as they were written in someone's journal; I do not believe he/she still has it. Sorry for the relatively pointless post.
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Unread 08-12-2012, 12:35 AM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

Years ago we did some friction testing on 968, but it was far from scientific. Our primary goal was to determine how much of a role wheel width played on friction with regards to maximum pushing force. In the past, 968 had run rather skinny wheels (as skinny as 5/8" tread width). We made up two sets of wheels with tread (and I don't remember if it was wedgetop or roughtop). One set was 1 inch wide, and the other set was 1.5 inches wide. We installed the narrower wheels and filled a plastic container with batteries so it was quite heavy and experimented with having the robot push this container on carpet. We then added more weight until the robot could no longer move it. We then swapped out the wheels for 1.5" wide ones and gave it another go. The robot pushed it with no problem, and it took adding something like another 40lbs to the container to make it un-moveable again.

While not very scientific, we did determine that wheel width can play a substantial role in friction.

Beyond that, the only thing I really bother to do each year is press some wheels against the ground while simulating turning them and think to myself "yeah, this grips well." I know, not very 'engineer' of me. If the need arises in the coming season, perhaps I'll have some students do the test you describe.
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Unread 08-12-2012, 05:37 AM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

Wow, never thought I'd see this brought up.

Some years ago, we actually had to find the COF between a rough-ish sponge and a piece of wooden board (relatively smooth), for a physics lab.

My group promptly used the method you've detailed, and why not, it's so dang easy. However, our results were not what we expected. We saw huge variances in the "sliding" angles. We're talking +/- 20 degrees here.

We never did figure out what were causing the variances. The teacher provided a whole host of possible reasons, none of which really did the problem any justice.

The most common/successful method was probably to weigh down the rough surface and then use a force gauge that provided a force vs. time reading. Then, from rest, slowly pull. At a certain point, the rough surface+weights will start moving. At that same point, your force will peak, and that becomes the maximum static friction (Fs). From there, it's a simple Fs = Fn * mu calculation. Granted this did require more technical equipment, it also seemed to provide much more consistent results.

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Unread 08-12-2012, 07:59 AM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

Quote:
Originally Posted by JVN View Post
I just published a post which highlights my method for calculating the coefficient of friction for robotic drivetrain systems.



See full post here.

So this brings up my next question...
Who actually bothers to do this?

Does anyone? Is it just me?
Does your team have their own method?
Does your team just trust the manufacturer's specs?
Do you even care, or do you just say "this is grippy as heck" and not bother?

Please share.

Originally posted here.
Wow the timing of this post is funny because I have been trying to decide if I should simulate one wheel or a whole system, and I'm still somewhat conflicted. My problem is that one side goes faster than the other and I cannot figure out how to simulate this properly. I know there is latency involved, I suspect this is just load mostly and I suspect the mass count on each side is different. If I attempt to correct the heading too aggressively I get a fish tale effect that oscillates and I don't like having to back off the corrections interval as a solution.
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Unread 08-12-2012, 08:58 AM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

Quote:
Originally Posted by JVN View Post
Does anyone? Is it just me?
Does your team have their own method?
Does your team just trust the manufacturer's specs?
Do you even care, or do you just say "this is grippy as heck" and not bother?
None of the teams I've been on have ever tested it themselves, trusting the manufacturer (or CD, in the case of roughtop/wedgetop) instead.

Nothing against those that do, we just inevitably run into bigger problems that eat up our time during the time it's a relevant question. (After all, the system is different next year.)
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Unread 08-12-2012, 10:05 AM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

John,

We don't calculate the CoF. If we need to know, we test relative to some other standard (i.e., another robot) by pushing it along carpet and measuring force - sometimes with 'calibrated legs' only.

Your method is valid for static friction, but dynamic friction is also important IMHO, since once you start moving the value is usually quite different from static friction (= Sticktion). To measure that in your test setup, you lift to just below your normal angle, set the robot sliding, then reduce the angle to where it stops. This was very important to us in Lunacy, for example, where the wheels were generally not at rest relative to the surface.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ttldomination View Post
We never did figure out what were causing the variances.
Probably the 'interlocking' of the soft, rough sponge with the smooth-but-not-as-smooth-as-you-think wood. Get a particularly strong splinter of wood, and it grips more than if you only get weak (or short) ones.
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Unread 08-12-2012, 11:05 AM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonRotolo View Post
John,

We don't calculate the CoF. If we need to know, we test relative to some other standard (i.e., another robot) by pushing it along carpet and measuring force - sometimes with 'calibrated legs' only.

Your method is valid for static friction, but dynamic friction is also important IMHO, since once you start moving the value is usually quite different from static friction (= Sticktion). To measure that in your test setup, you lift to just below your normal angle, set the robot sliding, then reduce the angle to where it stops. This was very important to us in Lunacy, for example, where the wheels were generally not at rest relative to the surface.
Probably the 'interlocking' of the soft, rough sponge with the smooth-but-not-as-smooth-as-you-think wood. Get a particularly strong splinter of wood, and it grips more than if you only get weak (or short) ones.
Fun question: Is dynamic friction a constant with respect to velocity? I know a Physics 101 textbook will tell you it is, but I wonder if you ask a tribology (isn't that a fun word) expert about the dynamics of tread on carpet what the answer is. Or if anyone has ever tested it?

That is, do you have the same coefficient of friction with a tire sliding at 1 ft/s as you do with a tire sliding at 10 ft/s.
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Unread 08-12-2012, 11:40 AM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

Quote:
Originally Posted by ttldomination View Post
The most common/successful method was probably to weigh down the rough surface and then use a force gauge that provided a force vs. time reading. Then, from rest, slowly pull. At a certain point, the rough surface+weights will start moving. At that same point, your force will peak, and that becomes the maximum static friction (Fs). From there, it's a simple Fs = Fn * mu calculation. Granted this did require more technical equipment, it also seemed to provide much more consistent results.

- Sunny G.
This test has flaws also; the "puller" is usually not able to provide a pull of constant velocity. If there is any acceleration or change in acceleration, the waters get muddy quickly, and the data can be flawed.

We found that the tilt test is much more consistent for FRC applications as described.

-John
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Unread 08-12-2012, 01:32 PM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

We don't do this routinely (being both somewhat limited and somewhat naive in wheel choices), but with the bridge this year we did several true experiments, including using the full robot and bridge with various wheels and other surface texture changes. We used both tipping and dragging (as our CG meant tipping sometimes preceded slipping). With all our off-season drivetrains, we're setting up weighted testbed chassis and switching in wheels/treads on carpet, polcarbonate and polypropylene (approximation for polyethylene).


Quote:
Originally Posted by ttldomination View Post
Some years ago, we actually had to find the COF between a rough-ish sponge and a piece of wooden board (relatively smooth), for a physics lab.
The situation you describe is not strictly Coulombian, because of inconsistency both in approximating contact area as proportional to normal force and in the angle(s) of the contact planes(s) in general. (Leaving the sponge's contact with the wood and the wood's own imperfections to prevent constant behavior in both time and space).

Weighing down the surface (higher but constant normal force) gets you past some of that initial "noise". However, beware both the "pull slowly" difficultly JVN describes and the failure of Columbian models when contact area isn't proportional to normal force (below saturation) and/or frictional force isn't proportional to normal force (independent of contact area).
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Unread 08-12-2012, 01:39 PM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Siri View Post
We don't do this routinely (being both somewhat limited and somewhat naive in wheel choices), but with the bridge this year we did several true experiments, including using the full robot and bridge with various wheels and other surface texture changes. We used both tipping and dragging (as our CG meant tipping sometimes preceded slipping). With all our off-season drivetrains, we're setting up weighted testbed chassis and switching in wheels/treads on carpet, polcarbonate and polypropylene (approximation for polyethylene).
Do you have any results you can share?

-John
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Unread 08-12-2012, 02:48 PM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

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Originally Posted by JVN View Post
Thanks for sharing this link... are you trying to solve for static friction only? What about kinetic friction?
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Unread 08-12-2012, 04:39 PM
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Re: Coefficient of Friction Testing

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonRotolo View Post
John,

We don't calculate the CoF. If we need to know, we test relative to some other standard (i.e., another robot) by pushing it along carpet and measuring force - sometimes with 'calibrated legs' only.

Your method is valid for static friction, but dynamic friction is also important IMHO, since once you start moving the value is usually quite different from static friction (= Sticktion). To measure that in your test setup, you lift to just below your normal angle, set the robot sliding, then reduce the angle to where it stops. This was very important to us in Lunacy, for example, where the wheels were generally not at rest relative to the surface.
Don,
Do you have any of the data from the tests you've done, or any more info on how you take dynamic friction into account?

-John
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