Auto-Calibration and Control Applied to Electro-Hydraulic Poppet Valves
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Modern control design is sometimes accompanied by the challenge of dealing with nonlinear systems or plants. In some situations, due to the complexity of the plant and the unavailability of suitable models, the controls engineer opts for developing control schemes based on look-up tables. These tables, typically populated with the steady state inverse input-output characteristics of the plant, are used to compensate the plant via open-loop or closed-loop to solve the control problem. In an effort to present a new alternative, a general theoretical framework for online auto-calibration and control of general nonlinear systems is developed in this dissertation. This technique simultaneously learns the inverse input-state mapping (i.e. the calibration mapping) of the plant while forcing its state to follow a prescribed desired trajectory. The main requirements for the successful application of the novel control law are knowledge of the order of the plant and some generic data to initialize the inverse mapping. This last requirement can be easily fulfilled by using steady-state data or the equilibrium points of the plant. In this approach, the inverse mapping is learned from the current and past states. The learning is accomplished in a composite manner by employing input and state errors. The map is used simultaneously in the feedforward path to control the plant. The performance of the plant subject to this novel controller is validated through simulations and experimental data. The new control method is applied to a novel Electro-Hydraulic Poppet Valve (EHPV). These valves are used in a Wheatstone bridge arrangement for motion control of hydraulic actuators. This is preferred over the conventional use of spool valves due to the energy savings potential. It is shown in this dissertation that this method improves the value of using these types of valves for motion control in hydraulics. This is due to the combination of self-learning (auto-calibration) and better performance for a more efficient operation of hydraulic equipment. Additionally, it is shown that the auto-calibration of the valves can be used for health monitoring of the same, which consequently improves their reliability and expedites maintenance downtime.