System Modeling and Design for Control: Tensegrity and Helicopters

Feb 25

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm


Prof. Cornel Sultan, Virginia Tech

Control engineering practice imposes limitations on the mathematical model delivered to the control engineer. The classical approach in which a sophisticated simulation model is developed and then sequentially processed to cast it into a form amenable for control design is costly and not always effective. An alternative approach is to involve knowledge of the physical system’s characteristics and control requirements to build models that are appropriate for control design.

This talk presents two examples of the latest approach. The first is in modeling and designing tensegrity structures for control. The intrinsic properties of tensegrity enable accurate control-friendly nonlinear models based on ordinary differential equations. Furthermore, tensegrity systems can be designed to yield approximate linear models that are decoupled and accurate with respect to all signals of finite peak norm.

The second example is in developing control oriented helicopter models. Knowledge of control capabilities and requirements is used in the modeling phase to generate physics based models that capture the essential helicopter dynamics. The key idea is that, even if only flight dynamics modes are of interest to the control engineer, the essential dynamics must correctly capture other dynamics that is influenced by control design such as blade flapping, lead-lagging and flexibility. Application of these models in blade morphing control design is illustrated. Time permitting, applications in autonomous ship landing operations will be discussed.

 Cornel Sultan holds M.S. in Mathematics, Ph.D. in Aerospace Engr. from Purdue University and has been affiliated, among others, with Harvard Medical School and United Technologies Research Center. Currently he is an Associate Prof. in the Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Department at Virginia Tech where his principal research activities are in tensegrity and membranes, helicopters, coordinated control, and energy harvesting. He received a NSF CAREER Award in 2010.