Simulated stability tests of a small articulated tractor designed for extreme-sloped vineyards
MetadataShow full item record
A new reversible wheeled articulated tractor, designed to work in terraced vineyards trained with “pergola” system, common in mountain areas, is here described in its latest version and analysed through numerical simulations. This tractor has small dimensions, necessary to operate in that environment, and its central articulation has two rotational degrees-offreedom. The described features are surely strong design points but could be critical for vehicle’s stability, as affecting the supporting base’s dimensions and shape. Therefore, the tractor was equipped with a new automatic safety system: a self-locking articulation activated by contact sensors on the wheels. This device makes the vehicle partially-rigid in case of lateral unbalancing, so that rollover can happen only by overcoming the whole vehicle mass. A mathematical description of vehicle-ground interactions was implemented to deeply inquiry the tractor behaviour in different configurations (straight, angled) at increasing values of ground slope; roll and pitch stability indexes were then computed and used for comparisons with conventional tractors. Thanks to the low centre-of-gravity, the resulting rollover angle with the vehicle in straight configuration is promising (43.8°→96%): it is greater than the maximum lateral (20°→36%) and frontal (38°→78%) slope angle ever recorded on terraced vineyards. The same rollover angle is lower when the tractor turns.