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US6491127: Powered caster wheel module for use on omnidirectional drive systems

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Filing Information

Inventor(s) Robert Holmberg · James C. Slater ·
Assignee(s) 3Com Corporation ·
Primary Examiner Lanna Mai ·
Assistant Examiner Ruth Ilan ·
Application Number US9134241
Filing date 08/14/1998
Issue date 12/10/2002
Predicted expiration date 08/14/2018
U.S. Classifications 180/252  · 180/253  · 180/21  · 180/656  · 180/236  · 901/1  · 301/65  · 180/234  ·
International Classifications --
Kind CodeB1
International Classifications 180234 · 180236 · 180 23 · 180 2408 · 180211 · 180212 · 180 15 · 180 16 · 180 12 · 180 13 · 180 651 · 180 655 · 180 656 · 180252 · 180253 · 180 2406 · 180 2407 · 180 21 · 901 1 · 301 53 · 301 65 ·
5 Claims, 8 Drawings


Abstract

A drive system base or platform, such as for a mobile robot, is disclosed having multiple caster wheels, each wheel having its own first motor for independent driving and its own second motor for independent steering. Each wheel is rotably and pivotably mounted in a separate wheel module, which includes both the driving and steering motors associated with the wheel. All of the wheel modules on the base are identical and interchangeable. The two motors of each module are mounted side by side in a vertical arrangement for compactness. Each wheel module includes a suspension for allowing each wheel to move vertically and independently relative to the base. The hub and tread of each wheel are each cast concentrically around a bevel drive gear in an offset manner to provide a wheel and bevel gear that turn more smoothly and precisely.

Independent Claims | See all claims (5)

  1. 1. A powered caster wheel module for use on a drive system, the module comprising: a wheel mounted for rotation about a horizontal axis and pivotably mounted for steering about a vertical axis; a first motor for driving the wheel about the horizontal axis; a second motor for driving the wheel about the vertical axis; and a housing for mounting the wheel and the two motors and attaching to a drive system base, wherein both the first and second motors have armature axes that are vertical and closely spaced to provide the module with a small footprint and compact design, vertical travel means located on the housing for allowing the housing to move vertically a predetermined distance with respect to a drive system base; and means for suspending the drive system base from a housing such that a base can move along the vertical travel means with respect to the housing when the wheel travels over an uneven surface.
  2. 2. A drive system base comprising: a drive system base member; and a plurality of powered caster wheel modules, each module being substantially identical and including: a wheel mounted for rotation about a horizontal axis and pivotably mounted for steering about a vertical axis; a first motor mounted on the module for driving the wheel about the horizontal axis; a second motor mounted on the module for driving the wheel about the vertical axis; a housing for mounting the wheel and the two motors and attaching to the drive system base member; vertical travel means located on the housing for allowing the housing to move vertically a predetermined distance with respect to the drive system base member; and means for suspending the drive system base member relative to the housing such that the base member can move along the vertical travel means with respect to the housing when the wheel travels over an uneven surface, each of the wheels being able to move vertically independent of the other wheels; wherein both the first and second motors have armature axes that are vertical and closely spaced to provide the module with a small footprint on the drive system base member and a compact design, wherein each module is separately removable from the base member as an integral unit, and each module is freely interchangeable with one of the other modules.
  3. 3. A drive system base comprising: a drive system base member; and a plurality of powered caster wheel modules, each module being substantially identical and including: a wheel mounted for rotation about a horizontal axis and pivotably mounted for steering about a vertical axis; a first motor mounted on the module for driving the wheel about the horizontal axis; a second motor mounted on the module for driving the wheel about the vertical axis; and a housing for mounting the wheel and the two motors and attaching to the drive system base member, wherein both the first and second motors have armature axes that are vertical and closely spaced to provide the module with a small footprint on the drive system base member and a compact design, wherein each module is separately removable from the base member as an integral unit, and each module is freely interchangeable with one of the other modules, wherein each of the wheels comprises: a beveled gear having a central bore for accommodating at least one bearing to support the gear for rotational motion, the gear having a plurality of gear teeth disposed circumferentially around an axial end of the gear; a rigid hub cast concentrically around the beveled gear and extending radially outward therefrom allowing the gear teeth to protrude from an axial side of the hub; and a resilient tread with an outer periphery cast concentrically around an outer circumference of the hub such that the outer periphery of the tread is precisely aligned concentrically with the central bore of the gear.
  4. 4. A drive system comprising: a base member; and a plurality of powered caster wheel modules, each module being substantially identical and including: a wheel mounted for rotation about a horizontal axis and pivotably mounted for steering about a vertical axis, the wheel being mounted in a caster fashion such that the horizontal rotation axis and the vertical steering axis do not intersect, the wheel including a beveled gear having a central bore for accommodating at least one bearing to support the gear for rotational motion, the gear having a plurality of gear teeth disposed circumferentially around an axial end of the gear, the wheel including a rigid hub cast concentrically around the beveled gear and extending radially outward therefrom allowing the gear teeth to protrude from an axial side of the hub, and a resilient tread with an outer periphery cast concentrically around an outer circumference of the hub such that the outer periphery of the tread is precisely aligned concentrically with the central bore of the gear; a first motor mounted on the module for driving the wheel about the horizontal axis; a second motor mounted on the module for driving the wheel about the vertical axis; and a housing for mounting the wheel and the two motors and attaching to the base member, vertical travel means located on the housing for allowing the housing to move vertically a predetermined distance with respect to the base member; and means for suspending the base member relative to the housing such that the base member can move along the vertical travel means with respect to the housing when the wheel travels over an uneven surface, each of the wheels being able to move vertically independent of the other wheels, wherein both the first and second motors of each module have armature axes that are vertical and closely spaced to provide the module with a small footprint on the base member and a compact design, and wherein each module is separately removable from the base member as an integral unit, and each module is freely interchangeable with one of the other modules.

References Cited

U.S. Patent Documents

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Foreign Patent Documents

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JP6078831*Apr 1985
JP61285129*Dec 1986
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* cited by examiner

Referenced By

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US7418328 Deere & Company Bernard Edwin Romig Aug 2008
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