Relating Constrained Motion to Force Through Newton's Second Law
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When a mechanical system is subject to constraints its motion is in some way restricted. In accordance with Newton's second law, motion is a direct result of forces acting on a system; hence, constraint is inextricably linked to force. The presence of a constraint implies the application of particular forces needed to compel motion in accordance with the constraint; absence of a constraint implies the absence of such forces. The objective of this thesis is to formulate a comprehensive, consistent, and concise method for identifying a set of forces needed to constrain the behavior of a mechanical system modeled as a set of particles and rigid bodies. The goal is accomplished in large part by expressing constraint equations in vector form rather than entirely in terms of scalars. The method developed here can be applied whenever constraints can be described at the acceleration level by a set of independent equations that are linear in acceleration. Hence, the range of applicability extends to servo-constraints or program constraints described at the velocity level with relationships that are nonlinear in velocity. All configuration constraints, and an important class of classical motion constraints, can be expressed at the velocity level by using equations that are linear in velocity; therefore, the associated constraint equations are linear in acceleration when written at the acceleration level. Two new approaches are presented for deriving equations governing motion of a system subject to constraints expressed at the velocity level with equations that are nonlinear in velocity. By using partial accelerations instead of the partial velocities normally employed with Kane's method, it is possible to form dynamical equations that either do or do not contain evidence of the constraint forces, depending on the analyst's interests.