Sensitivity Analysis and Optimization of Multibody Systems

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Virginia Tech

Multibody dynamics simulations are currently widely accepted as valuable means for dynamic performance analysis of mechanical systems. The evolution of theoretical and computational aspects of the multibody dynamics discipline make it conducive these days for other types of applications, in addition to pure simulations. One very important such application is design optimization for multibody systems. Sensitivity analysis of multibody system dynamics, which is performed before optimization or in parallel, is essential for optimization.

Current sensitivity approaches have limitations in terms of efficiently performing sensitivity analysis for complex systems with respect to multiple design parameters. Thus, we bring new contributions to the state-of-the-art in analytical sensitivity approaches in this study. A direct differentiation method is developed for multibody dynamic models that employ Maggi's formulation. An adjoint variable method is developed for explicit and implicit first order Maggi's formulations, second order Maggi's formulation, and first and second order penalty formulations. The resulting sensitivities are employed to perform optimization of different multibody systems case studies. The collection of benchmark problems includes a five-bar mechanism, a full vehicle model, and a passive dynamic robot. The five-bar mechanism is used to test and validate the sensitivity approaches derived in this paper by comparing them with other sensitivity approaches. The full vehicle system is used to demonstrate the capability of the adjoint variable method based on the penalty formulation to perform sensitivity analysis and optimization for large and complex multibody systems with respect to multiple design parameters with high efficiency.

In addition, a new multibody dynamics software library MBSVT (Multibody Systems at Virginia Tech) is developed in Fortran 2003, with forward kinematics and dynamics, sensitivity analysis, and optimization capabilities. Several different contact and friction models, which can be used to model point contact and surface contact, are developed and included in MBSVT.

Finally, this study employs reference point coordinates and the penalty formulation to perform dynamic analysis for the passive dynamic robot, simplifying the modeling stage and making the robotic system more stable. The passive dynamic robot is also used to test and validate all the point contact and surface contact models developed in MBSVT.

Sensitivity Analysis, Optimization, Multibody Dynamics, Vehicle Dynamics