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Future planetary exploration missions will use rovers to perform tasks in rough terrain. Working in such conditions, a rover could become trapped due to loss of wheel traction, or even tip over. Mobile robots are increasingly being used in high-risk, rough terrain situations, such as planetary exploration 1 . Future planetary exploration missions will require mobile robots to perform difficult mobility tasks in rough terrain 2,3 . Such tasks can result in loss of vehicle stability, leading to tipover, and loss of wheel traction, leading to entrapment. Clearly, tipover instability can result in rover damage and total mission failure. GENERAL KINEMATIC RECONFIGURABILITY, The goal of kinematic reconfigurability is to improve robot performance by modifying the robot joint variables ?
i to optimize a user-specified performance index. Such performance indices include static stability, wheel (or foot) traction, vehicle pose for optimal force application, and others. Since forward and inverse kinematic solutions of hybrid serial-parallel chains are in
general difficult to formulate, analytical solutions often cannot be obtained for the optimal kinematic configuration. This motivates the use of numerical optimization techniques. A general tree-structured robotic mechanism, Optimization constraints in internally reconfigurable systems take the form of kinematic joint limit and interference constraints, and kinematic loop equations between link-terrain contact points to ensure they remain fixed.
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