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TECNIA,Vol 8 N°03, págs.

11-17, 1999
Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería
Lima - Perú


Arturo Rojas-Moreno
Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, Perú,
Luis Lecina-Sesen
Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, España,


This paper develops a procedure for designing a self-tuning-controller (STC) with the
capability of controlling single-input-single-output (SISO) nonlinear processes operating
under the presence of nonlinear disturbances. Such processes can be represented by
nonlinear differential equations, where the nonlinear terms complicate the analytical aspects
of modeling and controller design. However, based on the corresponding linear process
model, we can form a discrete Self-Tuning Control System (STCS), in which is possible to
employ linear control algorithms. Modeling errors should be corrected by the estimation
procedure of the STCS. An application is provided to demonstrate the validity of the design
approach: controlling a nonlinear position process exposed to nonlinear disturbances.


Adaptive control systems adjust their behavior to the changing properties of controlled processes and their
signals. This is unlike fixed control systems which are characterized by a control law that does not change with
time. Research on adaptive controllers has emphasized in two approaches: Model-reference adaptive controllers
and self-tuning controllers. This paper uses the configuration of the STCS depicted in Fig. 1. Such a STCS
combines in its design a parameter estimation method (the Improved Recursive Least Squares (IRLS)), a
process model representation, and the control law (the Proportional-Integral Linear-Quadratic State-Space
Feedback Controller (PI-LQSSFC)). The control objective of the STC is to choose an actual forcing function
capable of minimizing th difference between process output and reference signal.
Fig.1 Configuration of a self-tuning control system.

The STCS depicted in Fig. 1 operates as follows: After every sampling time, the estimated parameter vector
can be updated using the data provided by process input U and process output Y. The elements of can be
used to recover the linear process model, which permit the estimation of the state vector of the process model
(using a Kalman filter), and the reference value Uo of the actual control law U. Such estimates can be used to
compute the residual control law u and update the actual control law U from the relation U = Uo +u.

This paper is organized as follows. Section 2 deals with the problem of modeling nonlinear processes using linear
models. Procedures for estimating on-line process model parameters and states are developed in section 3, while
the control algorithm of the STC is derived in section 4. Section 5 presents the procedure for designing a STCS.
An application is provided in section 6: Controlling a nonlinear position process.


Let us consider the following continuous-time nonlinear dynamical process:

where (of order n) and U(t) (of order one) are the state vector and control law, respectively. The nonlinear
function may also contain disturbances on states. From the equation (1), it is possible to obtain the
following linear model representation:

where the subscript c stands for continuous, Ac is the state matrix of order n×n, Bc is the control matrix of order
n×1, Cc is the output matrix of order 1×n, and DAc, DBc, and DCc are the corresponding bounded uncertainties
with proper dimensions. Also, is a nonlinear disturbance vector on states of order n, is a
nonlinear output disturbance of order one, and is the process output of order one. The non-disturbed
nominal (or certain) process can be obtained setting all uncertainties and disturbances in equation (1) to zero. By
sampling such a nominal model, we can obtain the following representation:

where k is the discrete time. Employing the relations: y = Y-Yo , x = X-Xo , and u = U-Uo , where the superscript
o denotes and average value, we can obtain:

Its corresponding polynomial form has the form:

where z is the shift operator.


This section presents procedures to estimate on-line process model parameters and process states.

3.1 The IRLS Method

For estimation of the process parameters, the state-space description given by equation (3) has to be rearranged
to the following form:

where the information or measurement vector [(y)\vec] contains present and past values of the process input u
and process output y, and the vector [(q)\vec] contains the parameters to be estimated. The corresponding
polynomial representation has the form given in equation (5). By employing relations y = Y-Yo and u = U-Uo in
equation (5), we can obtain the following polynomial equations:

Therefore, equation (6) takes on the following form:

In equation (9), the order of the resulting information and parameter vectors have increased by one. The new
information vector contains present and past values of the actual process input U and output Y, and
the new parameter C to be estimated on-line. For q = 1, equation (8) represents the steady state condition of C.
For such a condition, the reference value takes on the following form:

The basic RLS algorithm presents a number of potential problems that could affect the final design of a STC.
This paper employs the IRLS method proposed in [3], which is an improvement of the basic RLS. For designing
STC's, such a method can be used to estimate on-line process model parameters using actual measurements
(equation (9)) instead of residual ones (equation (6)). The IRLS method can be implemented as follows:

1. The initial parameter vector can be obtained using the valued parameters of the process model given
by equation (3), section 2.
2. The initial value of the parameter C can be obtained using equation (8) with q = 1.
3. The initial covariance matrix P may have the form: P = ÃI, where I is the identity matrix and à >> 1.
4. Rearrange equation (3) to the following form:

5. Compute:
6. Determine the matrix Ni(k) applying Cholesky factorization on: Ni(k)Ni(k)T = P(k).
7. Determine the scaled matrix S(k) that can minimize the condition number of the product S(k)N(k) by
choosing sjj = 1/njj, where the njj are the absolute row-sums of N.
8. Compute:
9. Implement the criteria to stop estimation and to find the new scaled matrix Nnew as follows: If tt £ t
(lower bound), stop estimation. Otherwise, if tt ³ k (upper bound), determine Nnew(k) from the relation
PS = NnewNnewT and the elements nnewjj (absolute row-sums of Nnew(k)). Also, determine the
diagonal matrix Snew with elements snewjj = 1/nnewii, and the matrix PnewS = SnewPSSnew. Finally,
update P = PnewS.

3.2 Estimating States

We can obtain from equation (4) the following nominal disturbed process:

During the estimation procedure, the parameter vector becomes the estimated parameter vector .
On using such estimates, we can recover the elements of the estimated matrices and in order to
obtain the estimated version of equation (4) as follows:

where the state estimates and can be obtained using a Kalman filter [2]) with observation

and state update:

In equation (15), the gain matrix F(k) is given by:

where S(k) = S T(k) is the unique positive-definite solution to the following associated discrete matrix Riccatti

where Q(k) and X(k) are the positive-definite covariances of the disturbances and w respectively.


It is well-known [2] that the proportional LQSSFC is a gain matrix Kx, such that the feedback control law
minimizes the following cost function:

subject to the following constraint equation:

where the matrix Q = QT ³ 0 is positive-semidefinite and the matrix R > 0 is positive-definite. The gain Kx is
given by:

where S is the unique positive-definite solution to the following associated discrete matrix Riccati equation:

To improve the performance of the proportional LQSFC, it is possible to add integral action to the controller.
Let us define the variable z(k) as the integral (summation) of the system error as follows:

and the augmented state space representation takes on the following form:

where the superscript a stands for augmented. The vector and matrices , , and take on the
following form:

Hence, the problem is to find the gain matrix such that the feedback control law
minimizes the following cost function:

where the matrix is positive-semidefinite. The gain is given by:

In equation (25), Sa is the unique positive-definite solution to the following associated discrete matrix Riccati

Therefore, the control law of the STC is given by:

The performance-oriented parameters are R and Qa.


The procedure for designing the STCS depicted in Fig. 1 is as follows: Using all the information available about
the nonlinear process, determine its linear process model (section 2). Following, implement the IRLS method
(subsection 3.1) for estimating process model parameters, and implement the procedure developed in subsection
3.2 for estimating process model states. Next, implement the residual control law u(k) given by equation (27),
compute the reference vector Uo (k) using equation (10), and update the actual control law using the relation
U(k) = u(k)+Uo (k). Finally, determine the performance-oriented parameters R and Qa for satisfactory operation
of the process.


Fig. 2 depicts a nonlinear position plant: a DC servo motor (with permanent magnet and gear reduction
mechanism) driving a nonlinear load. Such a load, a metal rod attached to the motor shaft, is able to rotate (like a
robot manipulator) in a plane perpendicular to the shaft. Fig. 3 shows the block diagram of the nonlinear plant.
The notation employed in Figs. 2 and 3 has the following meaning: q is the controlled angular position; Y is the
the position in volt; K = 2×pi/512 volt/rad/s is the sensitivity of the position transducer; n = 19.74 is the gear
train radio; NB = 1 rad is the backlash due to the gear train; Nm is the torque required to
overcome the Coulombic friction with KC = 0.2 Nms; TL = LMg Nm is the nonlinear load torque due to the
rod that possesses a mass of M = 0.06377 Kg and a length of L = 0.776 m; JT = 0.0139 Kg-m2 is the total
moment of inertia referred to the motor; FT = 7.05×10-5 Nms is the total linear friction referred to the motor; Ra
= 7.38 ohm and La » 0 are the resistance and inductance armature of the motor, respectively; Kb = 0.0310352
Nm/A is the torque constant of the motor; Kv = 31.0352×10-3 volt/rad/seg is the back EMF of the motor; A =
14.9 is the gain of the power amplifier.

Fig.2 The nonlinear position process.

Fig.3 Block diagram of the nonlinear position process.

The designed STC must be able to control the angular position of the rod under the presence of parameter
uncertainties and variable load. Clockwise rotation of the rod, starting from its resting position (with its free end
oriented to the earth surface), originates negative angular positions.

The components of the implemented position control system depicted in Fig. 4 are: The actuator, that includes a
PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) signal generator and a H-type PWM-amplifier; the DC servo motor with
permanent magnet and commutation brushes; the sensor block, that includes an optical encoder that senses
angular position and its sign; a Lab-PC+ Input/Output interface; and, a compatible PC with Pentium
microprocessor. The sensor block is able to transmit the information in form of two pulse trains, one of them
leading by 90 degrees to the other;

Fig.4 Implementation of the self-tuning control system.

The dynamics of the nonlinear plant can be formulated as follows:

where the nonlinear functions f(.) and h(u) represent the Coulombic friction and the motor saturation,
respectively, and u(t) is the continuous-time control law For modeling purposes, we can assume that senq » q.
Experimental results will demonstrate that modeling errors are corrected by the estimation procedure.
The terms f and h in equation (28) can affect the on-line computation of the control law u. On using the relation r
= u-f-h in equation (28), its corresponding difference equation takes on the form:

where a1 = -1.9641, a2 = 0.9614, b1 = 0.0044, and b2 = 0.0043. The canonical form of equation (29) takes on
the form:

where a11 = 0,a12 = 1, a21 = -a2, a22 = -a1, b11 = 0, b21 = 1, c11 = b2, and c12 = b1.

All required on-line programs to implement the designed STCS were written in C-code. To overcome the
Coulombic friction, the following relation was introduced:

where the value 0.2 was found via a trial-and-error procedure. On the other hand, to avoid motor saturation, the
following relation was employed:

To obtain the experimental results depicted in Fig. 5, the reference position was changed stepwise from pi/3 to
pi/2. Two cases were taken into consideration: The unloaded case depicted in Figs. 6(a) and (b)), and the
loaded case depicted in Figs. 6 (c) and (d). In both cases, the STC is able to control the output position of the
motor shaft (Figs. 6(a) and (c)) despite the simultaneous presence of the nonlinear load, the Coulombic
disturbance, and the motor saturation nonlinearity. Figs. 5 (b) and (d) depicts the corresponding control forces.
Process noise covariance and measurement noise covariance were taken Q = 0.01 and X = 0.04, respectively
(see equations (16) and (17)). The performance oriented parameters were set to R = 0.04 and Qa = 0.01I3,
where I3 is an order-three identity matrix. The sampling time was chosen to be Ts = 0.001 s.
Fig.5 Experimental results for the unloaded case
(Figs. (a), (b) and the loaded case (Figs.(c),(d)).


A design procedure of a STC for controlling nonlinear process subject to nonlinear disturbances was developed
in this paper. Such a procedure was applied to control a nonlinear position control operating under the presence
of Coulombic friction, motor saturation, and nonlinear load. In light of the developed application, we can assure
that it is possible to find a linear process model capable of capturing significant features of the actual nonlinear
process (section 2). Modeling errors can be corrected by the estimation procedure (section 3), and the resulting
process model permit the use of linear control algorithms (section 4).

The developed design approach can be extended for controlling MIMO nonlinear processes. However, in order
to employ the IRLS method, we need to transform MIMO process models into MISO (Multiple Input Single
Output) representations [1].


[1] A. Rojas-Moreno, ``Design of self-tuning controllers for processes having multiple unknown
time-varying delays,'' Ph.D. thesis, Utah State University, Logan, UT, 1995.
[2] M. G. Sofonov, Stability and Robustness of Multivariable Feedback Systems. MA; London,
UK: The MIT Press Cambridge, 1980.
[3] N. Rao Sripada and D. Grant Fisher, ``Improved least squares identification,'' Int. J. Control,
vol. 46, no. 6, pp. 1889-1913, Dec. 1987.

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