Constant Curvature Drive

Curvature Drive is a method inside of DifferentialDrive that is similar to Arcade Drive or Tank Drive. All of these methods complete the same basic function; sending information’s to the motors on how much to move and in which direction.

What does constant curvature mean?

Constant Curvature drive controls the robot path’s curvature instead of its rate-of-change, like ArcadeDrive does. In ArcadeDrive, it is possible for the robot to turn on the spot. Whereas, with curvature drive, this is not possible.

A real-world example of constant-curvature control is a car. A car’s ability to turn is dependant on it’s velocity. The same is true of curvature drive.

Constant-curvature graph

This graph depicts the left, and right motor outputs over the robot’s velocity with a constant turning factor.

Cheesy Drive

Developed by Team 254, Cheesy Drive’s earliest recorded use case is in the 2014 source code for the game Aerial Assist. Cheesy Drive sparked the interest of WPI and they implemented a version of it, calling it simply Curvature Drive.

This following snippet from the CheesyPoofs’ 2016 codebase explains cheesy drive in a very simplistic way.

 * Helper class to implement "Cheesy Drive". "Cheesy Drive" simply means that
 * the "turning" stick controls the curvature of the robot's path rather than
 * its rate of heading change. This helps make the robot more controllable at
 * high speeds. Also handles the robot's quick turn functionality - "quick turn"
 * overrides constant-curvature turning for turn-in-place maneuvers.

When to use curvature drive

Curvature Drive could be use in many places. Strategy wise, Curvature Drive is best suited for getting across the field as fast as possible. Its usability at higher speeds makes it great for putting the pedal to the metal and the availability of quickTurn makes it great when making small adjustments to placement of game pieces.

How do I use it?

Constant-curvature drive control can be integrated into a robot via one of two methods:

// Using the DifferentialDrive helper
public void curvatureDrive(double speed, double rotation, boolean isQuickTurn) {
    DifferentialDrive.curvatureDrive(speed, rotation, isQuickTurn);

// Implementing it yourself
public void curvatureDrive(double speed, double rotation, boolean isQuickTurn){

    // Clamp inputs
    speed = Math.max(-1., Math.min(speed, 1.));
    rotation = Math.max(-1., Math.min(rotation, 1.));
    // Calculate constant-curvature vs rate-of-change based on QuickTurn
    double leftSpeed;
    double rightSpeed;

    if (isQuickurn){

        // Rate-of-change calculation
        leftSpeed = speed + rotation;
        rightSpeed = speed - rotation;
    } else {

        // Constant-curvature calculation
        leftSpeed = speed + Math.abs(speed) * rotation;
        rightSpeed = speed - Math.abs(speed) * rotation;

    // Normalize wheel speeds
    double maxMagnitude = Math.max(Math.abs(leftSpeed), Math.abs(rightSpeed));
    if (maxMagnitude > 1.0) {
        leftSpeed /= maxMagnitude;
        rightSpeed /= maxMagnitude;

    // Send speeds to motors here


Just like any other subsystem method, this method can be called from a command to allow driver control, or for autonomous use.