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833

A neural network approach to the design of a


vehicle’s non-linear hybrid suspension system

K N Spentzas * and S A Kanarachos


Mechanical Engineering Department, National Technical University of Athens, Greece

Abstract: In the following, a design method is presented for non-linear hybrid suspension systems of
vehicles based on neural networks. A hybrid suspension system is one that behaves as an active
suspension system only when the road excitation amplitude is above a prescribed value.
Discontinuous operation of the controller helps to minimize the energy consumed by the actuator.
The design targets of our method are the minimization of the vertical acceleration imposed on the
passengers as well as the respect of all the design and construction constraints. The neural network
used is obtained by a Taylor approximation of the unknown non-linear control function. Because
of the existence of numerous local minima of the neural network, an evolutionary algorithm is used
to solve the resulting neural network problem.

Keywords: vehicles’ suspension, vehicles’ hybrid suspension, neural networks, semistochastic optimi-
zation

NOTATION dynamic performance of a car, e.g. stability and comfort,


beyond the performance of a passive linear and some-
c coe cient of the damper times non-linear (progressive spring) suspension
f force applied by the actuator of the suspension system. Thus, it is generally expected that the control
system of the actuator is non-linear and intelligent (e.g. ¯exible).
fc control law of the hybrid suspension system (to be Passive suspension systems, either linear or non-linear,
de®ned) face serious di culties in performing satisfactorily in the
k coe cient of the suspension spring environment of use of modern cars. The performanc e of
k2 coe cient of the spring modelling the tyre active suspension systems is signi®cantly better, but these
m1 sprung mass systems present the disadvantag e that they increase the
m2 unsprung mass energy consumption, because the consumption of the
Tact time constant of the actuator hydraulic pump moving the actuator is not negligible.
w…t† road disturbance (vertical displacement imposed A promising solution for the future is the use of hybrid
on the tyre by road irregularities) suspension systems that behave as active only when the
wji weighted interconnections of the neural network road excitation amplitude is above a prescribed value.
(synaptic weights) The control of the actuator in active or hybrid suspen-
z relative displacement of the unsprung mass with sion systems is usually non-linear and intelligent (e.g.
respect to the sprung mass ˆ x1 ¡ x2 ¯exible). The synthesis of suitable controllers has been
investigated in the past by a number of researchers
All other symbols used are de®ned in the text.
using non-linear control, as well as fuzzy neural
approaches. The most recent papers have been listed in
1 INTRODUCTION references [1] to [8]. A survey of recent developments in
this area and related optimal control applications has
been presented in reference [1].
The basic idea of an active hybrid suspension system is to
In the following a new methodological approach to the
use an actuator (e.g. a hydraulic cylinder) to increase the
design of vehicles’ hybrid suspension systems is pre-
The MS was received on 7 Januar y 2002 and was accepted for publica- sented using neural networks [9]. The approach proposes
tion on 25 February 2002. a general type of neural network non-linear controller
*Correspondin g author: Mechanical Engineering Department, National
Technical University of Athens, Polytechnioupolis , Building B, 15780 based on a Taylor series approximation, trained by a
Athens, Greece. semistochastic optimization algorithm.
SC00102 IMechE 2002 Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 216 Part B: J Engineering Manufacture
834 K N SPENTZAS AND S A KANARACHOS

is considered:
8
< 1 ¡ cos…8 t†
A for t 0:25 s
wˆ 2 …2†
:
0 for t > 0:25 s

where A ˆ 0±11 cm.

5 CONSTRAINED OPTIMIZATION PROBLEM

For the optimization of the ride qualities of the car the


Fig. 1 Quarter-car model minimization of the vertical acceleration applied to the
passengers will be sought. For construction reasons,
the relative displacement of the unsprung mass with
2 MATHEMATICAL MODEL
respect to the sprung mass must be restricted to an
acceptable value. Consequently, the following constraint
The mathematical model used is the (well-known) will be introduced:
quarter-car model with hybrid (passive±active) suspen-
sion system shown in Fig. 1. jzj ˆ jx1 ¡ x2 j z· ˆ 8 cm …3†

3 EQUATIONS OF MOTION 6 CONTROL PROBLEM

The equations of motion taking into account the Firstly, solving the unconstrained problem (jzj not con-
dynamics of the actuator (the control law to be de®ned) strained) for Tact ˆ 0, immediately the following is
are the following: obtained:

m1 x 1 ‡ c…x_ 1 ¡ x_ 2 † ‡ k…x1 ¡ x2 † ˆ f x 1 ˆ 0 if uunc ˆ c1 …x_ 1 ¡ x_ 2 † ‡ k…x1 ¡ x2 † …4†


m2 x 2 ¡ c…x_ 1 ¡ x_ 2 † ¡ k…x1 ¡ x2 † ‡ k2 …x2 ¡ w† ˆ ¡f This means that the resulting spring coe cient kres and
damping coe cient cres of the hybrid (passive ‡ active)
Tact f_ ‡ f ˆ fc
system become zero, while the value of x2 is obtained
…1†
as follows:
³ ´
2 2 k2 2
4 ROAD DISTURBANCE x 2,unc ‡ « x2,unc ˆ « w ˆ « , w ˆ constant
m2

A sudden disturbance from the road due to a bump [1] ) x2,unc ˆ w‰1 ¡ cos…«t†Š …5†
described by the following equation (plotted in Fig. 2)
Equations (4) and (5) indicate now clearly that a control
law that can cope with the constraint (3) must be non-
linear.
Neural networks oVer a general powerful tool for
designing a non-linear law. The basic arti®cial neuron
can be modelled as a multiple-input non-linear device
(zi ) with weighted interconnections wji (also called
synaptic weights) while the output uj is described by
the equation
³X
N ´
uj ˆ Á wji zi ‡ ³j …6†
iˆ1

In equation (6), Á is a generally non-linear function,


while ³j is the external threshold, also called an oVset
or bias. The strength of the neural network formulation
lies in the general structure of the control law and in the
introduction of synaptic weights. On the other hand, the
Fig. 2 Typical road bumps generality of the formulation imposes the necessity to
Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 216 Part B: J Engineering Manufacture SC00102 IMechE 2002
A NEURAL NETWORK APPROACH TO THE DESIGN OF A SUSPENSION SYSTEM 835

de®ne an appropriate structure for the controller. For criterion is the convergence of the complex to one
this, the (unknown) non-linear law is expanded in a vector.
Taylor series: If F …wR † < F wb †, an expansion step takes place
(E ˆ constant):
fc ² uj …z, z†
_
wE ˆ w
· ‡ E…w
· ¡ ww † …11†
ˆ Á…w1 z ‡ w2 z_ ‡ w3 z2 ‡ w4 zz_ ‡ w5 z_2

‡ w6 z3 ‡ w7 z2 z_ ‡ w8 zz_2 ‡ w9 z_3 ‡ ¢ ¢ ¢† …7† Otherwise the contraction step follows (C ˆ constant):

Equation (7) represents a new methodological approach wC ˆ w


· ‡ C…ww ¡ w†
· …12†
in applying neural networks in control problems and is
mathematicall y accurate and expandable. In the case of In the expansion step, a new vector is calculated in the
a quadratic approximation , the neural network is opposite direction from ww considering the centroid as
described by N ˆ 9 synaptic weights w1 to w9 , to be the origin of the space. In the contraction step a new
determined by an appropriate procedure. vector is evaluated in direction of ww . The procedure
Training of neural networks is equivalent to determin- converges towards a local or global minimum 0 wmin
ing an e cient learning algorithm to adjust the weights depending on the initial vector and the properties of
that achieve the minimization of the speci®c objective the complex (density factor k and standard deviation
function. Because of the numerous suboptima associated ¼). The procedure can be repeated considering 0 wmin as
with non-linear control laws, a semistochastic parameter the new initial vector of a new complex, leading now to
optimization procedure for determining the optimum a new 1 wmin , etc., until con®dence about the result of
weight vector and an objective function utilizing penalty the optimization procedure is gained. A basic advantage
approach is used as the quantitative evaluator of the of the semistochastic complex method is that it combines
system performance. semistochastic build-up of the kN ‡ 1 complex and
According to the semistochastic complex method, a deterministic search.
polyhedron created, forming a regular complex and The general problem of minimizing f …w† subject to
composed of i ˆ 1, . . . , kN, kN ‡ 1 vectors wi : the constraints gj …w† 0 ( j ˆ 1, . . . , ng ) and hi …w† ˆ 0
(i ˆ 1, . . . , ne ) can be formulated as an unconstrained
wi ² fw1 w2 w3 w4 w5 w6 w7 w8 w9 gi minimization problem of the following complex function
…8† F …w†:

with k 3. The kN vectors wi of the initial complex ng


X
are computed using a Gauss distribution with a pre- F …w† ˆ f …w† ‡ ¶Gj G…fgj …w†g‡ †
selected standard variation ¼. The kN ‡ 1 vector is jˆ1

deterministically selected and de®ned as the base ne


X
vector. The method begins by evaluating the objective ‡ ¶Hi H…jhi …w†j†
function F …wi † for each of the vectors of the initial iˆ1
complex: ww is the vector corresponding to the highest ˆ minimum …13†
value of the objective function, F …ww † (called the worst
w) and wb is the vector corresponding to the lowest In the above expression, G is a function of the gj …w†‡ ,
value of the objective function, F …wb † (called the best with the subscript ‡ denoting that only the positive
w). Then, excluding ww , a centroid vector w· is de®ned values of gj …w† are considered [the negative values of
as follows: gj …w† are taken as zero; gj …w†¡ ˆ 0], H is a function of
hi …w†, while ¶Gj and ¶Hi are positive penalty weights.
1 XkN
w
·ˆ w …i 6ˆ w† …9†
kN i ˆ 1 i
7 NUMERICAL APPLICATION
and compute a re¯ection vector wR in the opposite direc-
tion from ww considering the centroid [equation (9)] as The data used for the numerical application are m1 ˆ
the origin of the space (R ˆ constant): 289 kg, m2 ˆ 59 kg, k1 ˆ 10 000 N/m, k2 ˆ 190 000 N/m
wR ˆ w
· ‡ R…w
· ¡ ww † …10† and c1 ˆ 500 N s/m. It is assumed that the passive
system is already designed to ful®l satisfactorily the
If F …wR † > F …wb † and F …wR † < F …wi † for i ˆ 1, . . . , ride quality requirements for bump amplitude
kN ‡ 1 and i 6ˆ w, then the worst vector ww is substituted 0 A Amean . Therefore, the neural network controller
by the re¯ection vector wR . A new centroid is then has to cope essentially with bump amplitudes in the
created and the procedure continues until the range Amean A Amax ; therefore its operation will be
termination criterion is ful®lled. A typical termination discontinuous.
SC00102 IMechE 2002 Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 216 Part B: J Engineering Manufacture
836 K N SPENTZAS AND S A KANARACHOS

Fig. 3 Time responses for the case of discontinuous operation of the controller, with road disturbance
maximum amplitude Amax ˆ 11 cm and time constant of the actuator, Tact ˆ 0 s

The structure of the neural network controller is tion with R ˆ 1:3, E ˆ 2 and C ˆ 0:5, leads to the
following values for Á and the synaptic weights:
fc ² uj …z, z†
_
wT ˆ f¡4:26 £ 10 4 4:28 £ 10 3 ¡34:78
ˆ Á…w3 z2 ‡ w4 zz_ ‡ w5 z_ 2 ‡ w6 z3 ‡ w7 z2 z_
¡4:02 £ 106 ¡1:05 £ 105 ¡7:21 £ 103
‡ w8 zz_2 ‡ w9 z_3 † …14†
¡211:72g, ¢t ˆ 0:05 s
It does not contain any linear feedbacks.
On the other hand, in order to ensure discontinuous Figure 3 shows the time traces for y, x 1 and f for the
operation, the Á function has to be activated. An appro- case where Tact ˆ 0 and for the bump maximum ampli-
tude Amax ˆ 11 cm. The controller is not activated for
priate Á function in equation (14) can be either a sigmoid
A < Amean ˆ 5 cm, while for Amax ˆ 11 cm the maximum
or a hard-type non-linearity:
passenger acceleration does not exceed x 1, max ˆ 12:2 m/s2
» and the maximum actuator forces and the power con-
0 for z ‡ ¢tz_ 0:08 m
Áˆ …15† sumption are kept small ( fmax ˆ 2438 N).
1 for z ‡ ¢tz_ > 0:08 m
Corresponding computations are performed also for
where ¢t is the prediction time. non-zero time constants (Tact ˆ 0:02 s) of the actuator.
In order to minimize passenger acceleration with the The training of the neural network, again using semi-
proposed control law, the following goal and constraints stochastic optimization with R ˆ 1:3, E ˆ 2 and
are de®ned: C ˆ 0:5, leads to the following values for Á and the
synaptic weights:
f …w† ˆ jxj ˆ minimum for Amax ˆ 11 cm
wT ˆ f¡2:789 £ 10 5 9:687 £ 105 256:8
g1 …w† ˆ jzj ¡ 0:08 m 0 6 5
…16† ¡2:564 £ 10 ¡2:342 £ 10 ¡6:059 £ 10 3
422g, ¢t ˆ 0:05 s
Equations (16) indicate that the neural network is trained
for minimum acceleration for Amax ˆ 11 cm. The train- In Fig. 4 are presented the results for the above case.
ing of the neural network, using semistochastic optimiza- Despite the small Tact value, the actuator is rather
Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 216 Part B: J Engineering Manufacture SC00102 IMechE 2002
A NEURAL NETWORK APPROACH TO THE DESIGN OF A SUSPENSION SYSTEM 837

Fig. 4 Time responses for the case of discontinuous operation of the controller, with road disturbance
maximum amplitude Amax ˆ 11 cm and time constant of the actuator, Tact ˆ 0:02 s

‘slow’; if the 3Tact ˆ 0:06 s value is compared with the Finally, in Fig. 5 are displayed the resulting (passive ‡
time needed for the force bump Tforce bump º 0:05 s, active) spring coe cient kres and damping coe cient cres :
3Tact =Tforce bump º 120 per cent. However, also in this
case, the neural network controller manages to control kres ² k ¡ w3 z
the acceleration, certainly at a cost of much higher
values for the acceleration (x1, max ˆ 14:2 m/s2 ) and for cres ² c ¡ w4 z ¡ w5 z_ ¡ w7 z2 ¡ w8 zz_ ¡ w9 z_2
the force ( fmax ˆ 4338 N). …17†

Fig. 5 Evolution of kres and cres with time in the case of discontinuous operation of the controller, with road
disturbance maximum amplitude Amax ˆ 11 cm and time constant of the actuator, Tact ˆ 0:02 s

SC00102 IMechE 2002 Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 216 Part B: J Engineering Manufacture
838 K N SPENTZAS AND S A KANARACHOS

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Proc Instn Mech Engrs Vol 216 Part B: J Engineering Manufacture SC00102 IMechE 2002