The issue of wheeled vehicles vs. tracked vehicles for off-road operations has been a subject of debate for a long period of time. Recent interest in the development of vehicles for the rapid deployment of armed forces has given a new impetus to this debate. While a number of experimental studies in comparing the performances of specific wheeled vehicles with those of tracked vehicles under selected operating environments have been performed, it appears that relatively little fundamental analysis on this subject has been published in the open literature, including the Journal of Terramechanics. This paper is aimed at evaluating the tractive performance of wheeled and tracked vehicles from the standpoint of the mechanics of vehicle-terrain interaction. The differences between a tire and a track in generating thrust are elucidated. The basic factors that affect the gross traction of wheeled and tracked vehicles are identified. A general comparison of the thrust developed by a multi-axle wheeled vehicle with that of a tracked vehicle is made, based on certain simplifying assumptions. As the interaction between an off-road vehicle and unprepared terrain is very complex, to compare the performance of a wheeled vehicle with that of a tracked vehicle realistically, comprehensive computer simulation models are required. Two computer simulation models, one for wheeled vehicles, known as NWVPM, and the other for tracked vehicles, known as NTVPM, are described. As an example of the applications of these two computer simulation models, the mobility of an 8 × 8 wheeled vehicle, similar to a light armoured vehicle (LAV), is compared with that of a tracked vehicle, similar to an armoured personnel carrier (APC). It is hoped that this study will illustrate the fundamental factors that limit the traction of wheeled vehicles in comparison with that of tracked vehicles, hence contributing to a better understanding of the issue of wheels vs. tracks.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Fundamental evaluation of tractive performance, Traction, Wheels vs. tracks
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jterra.2004.08.003
Journal Journal of Terramechanics
Citation
Wong, J.Y, & Huang, W. (Wei). (2006). "Wheels vs. tracks" - A fundamental evaluation from the traction perspective. Journal of Terramechanics, 43(1), 27–42. doi:10.1016/j.jterra.2004.08.003