The present study investigates the problem of towing an object that is lying on a surface in a given workspace and the applicability to a planetary rover with four steering wheels. A quasi-static method has been introduced and used for path planning and for the synthesis of both object and rover trajectories. The rover uses a tether as the towing medium which is modeled as an elastic unilateral constraint. Moreover, a kinematic model of the rover which includes steering asymmetrical joint limits is taken into account. The dynamics model of the overall system is then derived and a sensitivity analysis is performed over a finite number of different trajectories, in order to evaluate the quasi-static assumption, the effects of the model, and the influence of the elastic constraint. Finally, experiments have been performed using the novel Archimede rover prototype and compared with dynamics simulations; the remarkable adherence shown with the model validates the overall approach.

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