On the Comparative Analysis of Locomotory Systems with Vertical Travel

This paper revisits the concept of specific resistance, a dimensionless measure of locomotive efficiency often used to compare the transport cost of vehicles (Gabrielli & von Karman 1950), and extends its use to the vertical domain. As specific resistance is designed for comparing horizontal locomotion, we introduce a compensation term in order to offset the gravitational potential gained or lost during locomotion. We observe that this modification requires an additional, experimentally fitted model estimating the efficiency at which a system is able to transfer energy to and from gravitational potential. This paper introduces a family of such models, thus introducing methods to allow fair comparisons of locomotion on level ground, sloped, and vertical surfaces, for any vehicle which necessarily gains or loses potential energy during travel.