ERJ staff report (DS)
Clemson, South Carolina - Michelin is adapting its Tweel tyre to possible lunar exploration app;ications. The work is being carried out jointly between Michelin's US centre and Clemson Uiversity, with the help of a Clemson student research..
The work centres on NASA's ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) robotic vehicle. Michelin is testing its new non-pneumatic lunar wheel on the next generation of Moon rovers in Hawaii as part of a NASA Lunar Analogs testing and evaluation event
Clemson researchers and Milliken & Co. were challenged by Michelin to measure wear and traction of textile tread leading to the ability to improve tread materials that may someday be used on NASA Moon rovers. The Michelin Lunar Wheel is based on the technology of the award-winning Michelin Tweel, which also includes creative, innovative design features developed by Clemson undergraduate students in fall 2006.
The research grew out of a senior design class project in 2006 sponsored by Michelin and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where graduating Clemson senior mechanical engineering students worked on developing proof-of-concept solutions to creating non-polymeric shear bands, metallic replacements for a rubber wheel. A $1.4 million project funded for three years by the NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) resulted and is led by Summers and his group, which includes professor Paul Joseph of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering professors Vincent Blouin and Christine Cole. Researchers are designing their own test equipment and developing computational models to design tire-sand traction systems that could eventually lead to improved tread material.
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Press release from Clemson UNiversity