Faculty Advisor

Dr. Zhikun Hou

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Michael A. Demetriou

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Mark W. Richman




"The recent years have seen the innovative system integration of a great many actuator technologies, such as point force actuators for space vehicle applications and the use of single fire actuators; such as pyrocharges to guide a free falling bomb to it’s target. The inherent limitations of these developments, such as nonlinear behavior under extreme environments and/or prolonged/repeated usage leading to a relaxation time component between firing of actuators and inherent system power limitations, have resulted in greater need for sophisticated control algorithms that allow for optimal switching between various actuators in any given embedded configuration so as to achieve the best possible performance of the system. The objective of this investigation is to offer a proof of concept experimental verification of a real time control algorithm, which switches between online piezoelectric actuators, employed for vibration control in an aluminum beam with fixed boundary conditions. In this investigation at a given interval of time, only one actuator is activated and the rest are kept dormant. The reason is to demonstrate the better vibration alleviation characteristics realized in switching between actuators depending on the state of the system, over the use of a single actuator that is always in fire mode. This effect is particularly pronounced in controlling systems affected by spatiotemporal disturbances. The algorithm can be easily adapted for various design configurations or system requirements. The optimality of switching is with respect to the minimal cost of an LQR performance index that corresponds to each actuator. Computer simulations with repeatable disturbance profiles, revealed that this algorithm offered better performance over the non-switched case. Performance measures employed were the time varying total energy norm of the dynamic system and position traces at any particular location on the beam. This algorithm was incorporated on a dSPACE rapid prototyping platform along with suitable hardware. Experimental and simulation results are discussed. "


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Actuator placement algorithm, Piezoelectric actuators, LQR, Galerkin, Supervisory control, Active vibration control, FEA, Switching policy, dSPACE, Actuators, Algorithms, Piezoelectric materials, Vibration