What would be the best way to rig an articulated vehicle such as a semi pulling a trailer, so that the entire thing could be animated along a path yet have the trailer "trail" correctly behind the cab?
Would I set up a short IK chain from the hitch to the end of the trailer, parent the trailer to it, then add a sticky handle at the end of the chain? I thought this would work, but can't get it to happen. The semi is attached to a path curve, "trailer skeleton" is parented to the cab...and the whole rig is orienting itself to the path curve, meaning that the trailer's wheels are skidding all over the place.
This should be easy, but I'm bashing my head here....
possible fix is to drive the whole semi with trailer by the same skeletton. and then rigid bind the semi to the root - put the next start of bone where the trailer connects - limit the rotations - add a ik chain to end wheels of trailer.
now for realistic animation you need to have a differant curves for the semi and the trailer in curves. it is just not possible that the trailer follows exactly - it kind of takes shortcuts.
or i misunderstood your problem with the wheels skidding.
A variation of what you described works pretty well!
I indeed had to animated the trailer a little differently as you mentioned. Making a similar (but less curvy) curve for the trailer path, then animating the trailer's IK handle along that worked really well.