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Variable structure control of shape memory alloy actuators

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2 Author(s)
D. Grant ; McGill Res. Centre for Intelligent Machines, McGill Univ., Montreal, Que., Canada ; V. Hayward

A shape memory alloy (SMA) actuator consisting of a number of thin NiTi fibers woven in a counter rotating helical pattern around supporting disks is first described. This structure accomplishes a highly efficient transformation between force and displacement overcoming the main mechanical drawback of shape memory alloys, that being limited strain. Time domain open loop experiments were then conducted to determine the intrinsic properties of the actuator. From these experiments and from the knowledge of the underlying physics of SMAs, a multiterm model, including linear and nonlinear elements, was proposed. After further investigation and simulation, it was found that most of these complexities did not need to be considered in order to explain the reported results, and that the model could be reduced to that of a single integrator. A variable structure controller was then applied to a pair of antagonist actuators. The feedback switches between the two actuators according to the sign of the displacement error. A further improvement was added to compensate for known gross nonlinearities by modulating the current magnitude in a discrete manner as a function of the state space position. It was therefore possible to realize smooth and robust control with very little cost in complexity

Published in:

IEEE Control Systems  (Volume:17 ,  Issue: 3 )