Modelling and Simulation of Rapidly Changing Road Gradients

Robert T Wragge-Morley, Guido Herrmann, Stuart Burgess, Phil Barber

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In vehicle dynamics modelling, the road profile is generally treated in one of two ways; either the gradient is a property that changes over a length scale far greater than that of the vehicle's wheelbase, or as a very detailed road surface model for determining the behaviour of vehicle suspensions. Occasionally, for modelling the behaviour of off-road vehicles, step-climbing manoeuvres are modelled. We propose an extension the general ideas of these step-climbing models to a general, continuously varying road gradient model for cases where the distance over which the large gradient change occurs are of similar length-scale as the vehicle wheelbase. The motivation behind this work comes from a road gradient and vehicle mass estimation problem where it was noticed that very sudden gradient changes have a significant impact on the powertrain, but in a way that is not proportional to the attitude change of the vehicle. We present an analysis applicable to these cases where the road gradient change is substantially different from the vehicle attitude change. The analysis is built up from a very basic step climbing exercise to a general case solution for two dimensional longitudinal vehicle dynamics. Methods of handling road gradient and gradient change for modelling purposes are also discussed, and a method is proposed defines the gradient change as an input to the model (where applicable) as well as simply the instantaneous gradient at a point in space. The results of preliminary validation experiments for simple gradient change cases are shown. We discuss the implication of these road gradient transients to vehicle parameter estimation based on powertrain behaviour.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)392-401
    Number of pages10
    JournalSAE International Journal of Passenger Cars - Mechanical Systems
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2016


    • Commercial vehicle
    • automotive
    • simulation and modeling
    • vehicle dynamics
    • off-highway vehicles and equipment


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