Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Mahdi Shahbakhti

Committee Member 1

Rush D. Robinett III

Committee Member 2

Darrell L. Robinette

Committee Member 3

Jie Sun

Committee Member 4

Wayne W. Weaver


Bridging the gap between designed and implemented model-based controllers is a major challenge in the design cycle of industrial controllers. This gap is mainly created due to (i) digital implementation of controller software that introduces sampling and quantization imprecisions via analog-to-digital conversion (ADC), and (ii) uncertainties in the modeled plant’s dynamics, which directly propagate through the controller structure. The failure to identify and handle these implementation and model uncertainties results in undesirable controller performance and costly iterative loops for completing the controller verification and validation (V&V) process.

This PhD dissertation develops a novel theoretical framework to design controllers that are robust to implementation imprecision and uncertainties within the models. The proposed control framework is generic and applicable to a wide range of nonlinear control systems. The final outcome from this study is an uncertainty/imprecisions adaptive, easily verifiable, and robust control theory framework that minimizes V&V iterations in the design of complex nonlinear control systems.

The concept of sliding mode controls (SMC) is used in this study as the baseline to construct an easily verifiable model-based controller design framework. SMC is a robust and computationally efficient controller design technique for highly nonlinear systems, in the presence of model and external uncertainties. The SMC structure allows for further modification to improve the controller robustness against implementation imprecisions, and compensate for the uncertainties within the plant model.

First, the conventional continuous-time SMC design is improved by: (i) developing a reduced-order controller based on a novel model order reduction technique. The reduced order SMC shows better performance, since it uses a balanced realization form of the plant model and reduces the destructive internal interaction among different states of the system. (ii) developing an uncertainty-adaptive SMC with improved robustness against implementation imprecisions. Second, the continuous-time SMC design is converted to a discrete-time SMC (DSMC). The baseline first order DSMC structure is improved by: (i) inclusion of the ADC imprecisions knowledge via a generic sampling and quantization uncertainty prediction mechanism which enables higher robustness against implementation imprecisions, (ii) deriving the adaptation laws via a Lyapunov stability analysis to overcome uncertainties within the plant model, and (iii) developing a second order adaptive DSMC with predicted ADC imprecisions, which provides faster and more robust performance under modeling and implementation imprecisions, in comparison with the first order DSMC.

The developed control theories from this PhD dissertation have been evaluated in real-time for two automotive powertrain case studies, including highly nonlinear combustion engine, and linear DC motor control problems. Moreover, the DSMC with predicted ADC imprecisions is experimentally tested and verified on an electronic air throttle body testbed for model-based position tracking purpose.