Networked control systems : from theory to experiments

N.W. Bauer

Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 1 (Research TU/e / Graduation TU/e)

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Driven by recent telecommunication demand, shared communication channels are more abundant today than ever before. These shared wired/wireless networks for communication are being exploited more and more in control systems to connect sensors, controllers and actuators resulting in so-called networked control systems (NCSs). NCSs replace the more traditional control systems where dedicated point-to-point (wired) connections are being used. The advantages of using NCS technology are inexpensive and easily modifiable communication links which allow control algorithms to be easily implemented in situations where dedicated connections are not possible (either economically or physically). However, the drawback is that the control system is susceptible to undesirable (possibly destabilizing) side-effects such as time-varying transmission intervals, time-varying delays, packet dropouts, quantization and a shared communication medium. These network-induced effects undermine fundamental assumptions on which traditional control theory is built and, therefore, it is essential to develop new techniques and tools that can be used to analyze and/or design control systems which communicate via a shared network. This thesis advances NCS analysis and design methodologies by contributing new theoretical developments, new software tools and new experimental validation results. The first new theoretical development is in the area of analyzing robust stability properties with respect to network-induced effects. A sum of squares (SOS) approach for a class of nonlinear NCSs incorporating bounded time-varying delays, bounded time-varying transmission intervals and a shared communication medium is developed. Mathematical models that describe these nonlinear NCSs are cast into suitable hybrid system formulations. Based on these hybrid system formulations, (families of) Lyapunov functions are constructed using SOS techniques. Amongst other benefits, it is shown that this technique improves the guaranteed robustness margins compared to existing work. The second new theoretical development concerns the design of networkaware decentralized controllers guaranteeing robust stability properties with respect to network-induced effects. We develop one of the first approaches based on semidefinite programming techniques to synthesize stabilizing decentralized observer-based output-feedback controllers for linear plants where the controllers, sensors and actuators are connected via a shared communication network subject to time-varying transmission intervals and delays. To effectively deal with the shared communication medium, a switched observer structure is adopted that switches based on the transmitted measured outputs and a switched controller structure is also adopted that switches based on the transmitted control inputs at each transmission time. By taking a discrete-time switched linear system perspective on modeling these decentralized NCSs, we are able to derive a general model that captures all these networked and decentralized control aspects. We provide linear matrix inequality (LMI)-based synthesis conditions which, if satisfied, provide stabilizing observer-based controllers that are both decentralized and robust to network effects. Regarding new software tools, the first prototype of a toolbox is developed to automate (robust) stability analysis (and controller design) for NCSs. Specifically, it is shown that the toolbox can be employed to efficiently verify if a linear time-invariant (LTI) plant and an LTI controller interconnected with a shared network are robust to certain network imperfections. The main intention of the toolbox is to make the available theory readily accessible to and applicable for the general control community. Additionally, the chosen software structure enables the incorporation of custom models or custom stability/performance analysis conditions in an easy manner, thereby allowing the control community to contribute and to further develop the toolbox. Finally, an experimental case study involving a wirelessly controlled inverted pendulum/cart system is investigated. In particular, the communication network itself is analyzed such that the network-induced effects can be characterized in terms of bounds on the transmission intervals and transmission delays. Based on these bounds, the prototype toolbox is applied to analyze the robustness regions for different performance specifications, which aid in tuning the controller to achieve more closed-loop robustness with respect to the network-induced effects. This leads to a validation of the developed theory in an experimental setting. In addition to the validation of the developed theory, many new insights into the network behavior are obtained and explained, thereby raising new interesting questions for future research on NCSs.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Heemels, W.P.M.H. (Maurice), Promotor
  • van de Wouw, Nathan, Copromotor
Award date7 Feb 2013
Place of PublicationEindhoven
Print ISBNs978-90-386-3322-0
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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