The concept “relaxation length” serves as one of several ways to characterize the transient lateral response for a rolling tire. Most test methods developed to identify relaxation length tightly link to Pacejka’s single-contact-point linear transient model. Its underlying assumption is that the traveled distance during the transition interval is always a constant regardless of the wheels’ linear rolling speed. The current research provides physical data against this strong assumption. The data is acquired through a newly-developed test method named the “ramp-step steer method”.

The ramp-step steer method features a nonstop, high rolling speed, and fast-changing slip angle procedure that cannot be fulfilled by the conventional “start-stop-resume” step steer method. Thanks to the high dynamic capability of the equipment in GCAPS Corp., the proposed test method becomes feasible. A novel data postprocessing scheme accompanies the test method as well. The ramp-step steer method is independent of any specific models and replicates the scenario of a rolling tire subjected to a sudden slip angle change from on-vehicle to an indoor environment. The wheel speed effect on the tires’ transient lateral response is reflected through a proposed quantity, Ly, which is a more general descriptor and can downscale to relaxation length under specific circumstances. Ly itself does not associate with any model, so the remaining study explains the speed effect through an updated model. The present research aims to provide a better way of characterizing tires’ lateral transient behavior and is not an alternative to identify the key parameter “relaxation length” in Pacejka’s model. Another contribution of the research is categorizing and separating the hierarchy of various transient tire models.

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