Banked turn at constant speed and constant height with no slipping
This article discusses a scenario/arrangement whose statics/dynamics/kinematics can be understood using the ideas of classical mechanics.
View other mechanics scenarios
This article discusses a scenario where a vehicle with wheels is making a banked turn with a banking angle of without slipping and without any change in its altitude (i.e. it is not trying to go uphill or downhill).
Contents
Basic components of force diagram
The three candidate forces
Force (letter) | Nature of force | Condition for existence | Magnitude | Direction |
---|---|---|---|---|
gravitational force | unconditional | where is the mass and is the acceleration due to gravity | vertically downward, hence an angle with the normal to the incline and an angle with the incline | |
normal force | unconditional | adjusts so that there is no net acceleration perpendicular to the plane of the incline | outward normal to the incline | |
static friction | no sliding | adjusts so that there is no net acceleration along the incline | it is along (up) the incline. Note that if the vehicle's speed were changing, then the friction force would have a component up the incline and a component opposite the direction of motion of the vehicle. |
Equations
We choose to take components in the following three dimensions: the vertical direction, the horizontal direction that is perpendicular to the direction of motion of the vehicle, and the horizontal direction of motion of the vehicle.
It turns out that all the forces are in the plane spanned by the first two dimensions.
The vehicle has no acceleration in the vertical direction, so Newton's first law of motion gives us that:
The acceleration in the horizontal direction perpendicular to the motion of the vehicle is where is the speed and is the radius of curvature at the point of the curve obtained by taking a cross section at that vertical height. If the cross section is circular, then is the radius of the circle.
We thus get, by Newton's second law of motion, that:
We also have:
Relation between limiting coefficient of static friction, radius of curvature, banking angle, and speed of turn
Plugging (1.1) into (1.2), we get:
Plugging (1.1) into (1.3), we have:
Combining (2.1) and (2.2) we get:
Rearranging, we get:
In particular, in the frictionless case we would get .
Qualitative description of pair relationships
Equation (2.4) above gives a quantitative relationship governing the maximum possible speed of a banked turn for given values of radius of curvature, banking angle, and coefficient of static friction. We now discuss possible pair relationships between these four variables, and what they signify.
Variables whose relationship we are interested in studying | Variables that we fix for studying this relationship | Description of relationship | Explanation/verbal formulation |
---|---|---|---|
(maximum possible) and (radius of curvature) | and | The larger the radius of curvature, the less curved (i.e. the more straightish) the curve, and the higher the speed that it is possible to negotiate. In the limit as , there is no turn at all and no limit on the value of . | |
(maximum possible) and (banking angle) | and | positive, |
Confusion with sliding motion along an inclined planeThe basic forces operating in the case of a banked turn are similar to the basic forces operating for sliding motion along an inclined plane, yet the analyses for these two situations are fairly different. We now examine how and why the analyses differ. Direction of acceleration and no accelerationIn the case of sliding motion along an inclined plane, the block could potentially move up or down the incline. Thus, the direction of acceleration is potentially parallel to the incline in the up-down direction. There is no acceleration in the direction normal to the incline. In the case of a banked turn, the body is moving along a curve at constant speed, hence its direction of acceleration is determined by the normal direction to the curve of motion. The curve of motion is (by assumption) at a constant height so the direction of acceleration is horizontal, perpendicular to the direction of motion (in our diagrammatic depiction, the direction of motion is perpendicular to the plane being depicted). There is no acceleration in the purely vertical direction. Choice of axes to take componentsOnce we have the force equations as vector equations, it is possible to take coordinates (i.e. take components of forces) with any system of mutually perpendicular axes, and then set up and solve the equations. In most cases, though, there is a convenient choice of axes that makes the equation setup and solving as easy as possible. Usually, this is done as follows: one axis is the direction of possible acceleration, the second axis is an orthogonal direction where the forces have nonzero components but there is no net acceleration, and the third axis is the one orthogonal to both of these. Based on our discussion above, we see that for the case of sliding motion along an inclined plane, the best choice of axes is along the plane (up/down) (the direction of possible acceleration), perpendicular to the plane (the direction of the normal force and a component of the gravitational force), and along the plane (horizontal) (no forces, no acceleration). In the case of a banked turn at a constant speed and constant height, on the other hand, the best choice of axes is horizontal, perpendicular to direct of motion (direction of acceleration -- centripetal), vertical (direction of gravitational force, other forces), and horizontal, along motion (no force or acceleration). |