Passive steering systems have been used for some years to control the steering of trailer axles on articulated vehicles. These normally use a “command steer” control strategy, which is designed to work well in steady-state circles at low speeds, but which generates inappropriate steer angles during transient low-speed maneuvers and at high speeds. In this paper, “active” steering control strategies are developed for articulated heavy goods vehicles. These aim to achieve accurate path following for tractor and trailer, for all paths and all normal vehicle speeds, in the presence of external disturbances. Controllers are designed to implement the path-following strategies at low and high speeds, whilst taking into account the complexities and practicalities of articulated vehicles. At low speeds, the articulation and steer angles on articulated heavy goods vehicles are large and small-angle approximations are not appropriate. Hence, nonlinear controllers based on kinematics are required. But at high-speeds, the dynamic stability of control system is compromised if the kinematics-based controllers remain active. This is because a key state of the system, the side-slip characteristics of the trailer, exhibits a sign-change with increasing speeds. The low and high speed controllers are blended together using a speed-dependent gain, in the intermediate speed range. Simulations are conducted to compare the performance of the new steering controllers with conventional vehicles (with unsteered drive and trailer axles) and with vehicles with command steer controllers on their trailer axles. The simulations show that active steering has the potential to improve significantly the directional performance of articulated vehicles for a wide range of conditions, throughout the speed range.

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