Date of Award

7-2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor

Vahidi, Ardalan

Committee Member

Thompson , Lonny

Abstract

Most dynamic systems do not react instantaneously to actuation signals. The temporal evolution of some others is based on retarded communications or depends on information from the past. In such cases, the mathematical models used to describe these systems must include information about the past dynamics of the states. These models are often referred to as delay or retarded systems. Delays could channel energy in and out of a system at incorrect time intervals producing instabilities and rendering controllers' performance ineffective.
The purpose of this research is two folds. The first investigates the effect of inherent system delays on the stability of coupled oscillators subjected to decentralized control and the second studies the prospectus of augmenting the delay into a larger delay period that could actually stabilize the coupled system and enhance its damping characteristics. Towards these ends, a system of two linearly-coupled oscillators with decentralized delayed-proportional feedback is considered. A comprehensive linear stability analysis is utilized to generate maps that divide the controllers' gain and delay domain into regions of stability for different coupling values. These maps are then used to draw definite conclusions about the effect of coupling on the stability of the closed-loop in the presence of delay.
Once the stability maps are generated, the Lambert-W function approach is utilized to find the stability exponents of the coupled system which, in turn, is used to generate damping contours within the pockets of stability. These contours are used to choose gain-delay combinations that could augment the inherent feedback delays into a larger delay period which can enhance the damping characteristics and reduce the system settling time significantly.
An experimental plant comprised of two mass-spring-damper trios coupled with a spring is installed to validate the theoretical results and the proposed control hypothesis. Different scenarios consisting of different gains and delays are considered and compared with theoretical findings demonstrating very good agreement. Furthermore, the proposed delayed-proportional feedback decentralized controller is tested and its ability to dampen external oscillations is verified through different experiments.
Such a research endeavor could prove very beneficial to many vital areas in our life. A good example is that of the coupled system of the natural and artificial cardiac pacemakers where the natural pacemaker represents a rhythmic oscillating system and the coupled artificial pacemaker provides a stabilizing signal through a feedback mechanism that senses the loss in rhythm. In this system, even the minute amount of delay in the sensing-actuating could prove very detrimental. The result of this research contributes to the solution of this and similar problems.

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