Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Mark W. Richman, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Grigoriadis, Karolos M. , Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Nikolaos A. Gatsonis, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Islam I. Hussein, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Michael A. Demetriou, Advisor




The vibration control problem for flexible structures is examined within the context of overall controller performance and power reduction. First, the issue of optimal sensor and actuator placement is considered along with its associated control robustness aspects. Then the option of alternately activating subsets of the available devices is investigated. Such option is considered in order to better address the effects of spatiotemporally varying disturbances acting on a flexible structure while reducing the overall energy consumption. Towards the solution to the problem of optimal device placement, three different approaches are proposed. First, a computationally efficient scheme for the simultaneous placement of multiple devices is presented. The second approach proposes a strategy for the optimal placement of sensors and collocated sensor/actuator pairs, taking into account the influence of the spatial distribution of disturbances. The third approach provides a solution to the actuator location problem by incorporating considerations with respect to preferred spatial regions within the flexible structure. Then the second problem named above is considered. Activating a subset of the available and optimally placed actuators and sensors in a flexible structure provides enhanced performance with reduced energy consumption. Such approach of switching on and off different actuating devices, depending on their local-in-time authority, results in a hybrid system. Therefore the proposed work draws on existing results on hybrid systems and includes an additional degree of freedom, whereby both the actuating devices and the control signals allocated to them are switched in and out. To enable this switching an activation strategy, which insures also that stability-under-switching is guaranteed, is required. Three different strategies are considered for such actuators allocation: first a cost-to-go index is considered, then a cost function based on the mechanical energy of the flexible structure and finally a performance index based on the maximum deviation of the transverse displacement. A flexible aluminum plate was chosen to validate and test the proposed approaches. The set up utilized four pairs of collocated piezoceramic patches that serve to provide sensing and actuating capabilities. Extensive numerical simulations were performed for both the placement strategies and the switching policies proposed, in order to predict the behavior of the flexible plate and provide the optimal actuator and sensor locations that were to be affixed on the flexible structure. Finally, to complete the validation process a sequence of experimental tests were performed. The objective of these tests was to compare the performance of the proposed hybrid control system to traditional non switched control schemes. In order to provide a repeatable perturbation, four of the piezoceramic patches were allocated to simulate a spatiotemporally varying disturbance, while the remaining four patches were used as sensors and controlling actuators. The experimental results showed a significant performance improvement for the switched controller over the traditional controller. Moreover the switched controller exhibited improved robustness towards spatiotemporally varying disturbances while the traditional controller showed a significant loss of controller performance. The improvement achieved in vibration control problems could be extended to a wider range of applications. In particular, although this study was concentrated on a rectangular thin plate, the proposed strategies can be applied to emph{any} structure and more generally to any plant whose dynamics can be represented by a second order linear system. For example, by removing the restriction of spatially fixed actuators and sensors, the proposed theory can be applied to the problem of unmanned vehicles control.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





hybrid system, PZT actuators, performance enhancement, actuator placement, actuator switching