So I'm designing an AUV which will have wheels filled with air/helium(*) to ascent to the Antarctica ice shelves from underwater. My goal is retrieve data, images and information about the underwater world of Antarctica.

My question is, what kind of tires and what radius would be ideal to use on this AUV? Note that the wheels will be rolling on ice underwater, so I need a material that will increase the friction.

(*) I have also taken in consideration that the force of the AUV towards the surface (which will be blocked by thick flat ice). For that I was thinking that using helium in the tires and/or other parts(**) of the AUV would increase the buoyant force which would mean greater friction.

(**) Maybe I could add a separate sphere(***) somewhere filled with helium.

(***) Sphere because I can get the most amount of volume possible for the least surface area needed.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What radius - well obviuosly proportional to the shape / type of terrain you are encountering, so what can you tell us - basically what is the roughness coefficient? $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Dec 29 '17 at 19:22
  • $\begingroup$ recommend you consider using tires with sharp spikes rather than rubber tires with tread. the spikes will dig in like studded tires on ice. $\endgroup$ Dec 29 '17 at 20:11
  1. Land-based vehicles routinely use spikes for good traction on ice. This seems like a obvious thing to at least investigate. Look up studded snow tires.
  2. I don't get the point of helium. It is very slightly more boyant than air underwater. The extra handling and expense relative to air just doesn't sound worth it.
  3. I'm skeptical that the underside of the ice is smooth enough for long enough to make such a vehicle worthwhile. Rolling wheels are not good at dealing with obstructions or gaps larger than their diameters.
  4. Look into treads. Those are used on the land-based vehicles that need to traverse and grip rough terrain. Your bouyance would have to come from elsewhere, but a tank of air is cheap and simple.

Something like this would allow buoyant force, traction on ice (think ice skating) and hydrodynamic propulsion (screw in water) all in one design.


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