Xiong J., Jia Y., Liu C.
Symmetry and Relative Equilibria of a Bicycle System
2021, Vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 391-411
In this paper, we study the symmetry of a bicycle moving on a flat, level ground. Applying the Gibbs – Appell equations to the bicycle dynamics, we previously observed that the coefficients of these equations appeared to depend on the lean and steer angles only, and in one such equation, a term quadratic in the rear wheel’s angular velocity and a pseudoforce term would always vanish. These properties indeed arise from the symmetry of the bicycle system. From the point of view of the geometric mechanics, the bicycle’s configuration space is a trivial principal fiber bundle whose structure group plays the role of a symmetry group to keep the Lagrangian and constraint distribution invariant. We analyze the dimension relationship between the space of admissible velocities and the tangent space to the group orbit, and then employ the reduced nonholonomic Lagrange – d’Alembert equations to directly prove the previously observed properties of the bicycle dynamics. We then point out that the Gibbs – Appell equations give the local representative of the reduced dynamic system on the reduced constraint space, whose relative equilibria are related to the bicycle’s uniform upright straight or circular motion. Under the full rank condition of a Jacobian matrix, these relative equilibria are not isolated, but form several families of one-parameter solutions. Finally, we prove that these relative equilibria are Lyapunov (but not asymptotically) stable under certain conditions. However, an isolated asymptotically stable equilibrium may be achieved by restricting the system to an invariant manifold, which is the level set of the reduced constrained energy.