CONTROL OF A PNEUMATIC SYSTEM WITH ADAPTIVE NEURAL NETWORK COMPENSATION
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Considerable research has been conducted on the control of pneumatic systems due to their potential as a low-cost, clean, high power-to-weight ratio actuators. However, nonlinearities such as those due to compressibility of air continue to limit their accuracy. Among the nonlinearities in a pneumatic system, friction can have a significant effect on tracking performance, especially in applications that use rodless cylinders which have higher Coulomb friction than rodded cylinders. Compensation for nonlinearities in pneumatic systems has been a popular area of research in pneumatic system control. Most advanced nonlinear control strategies are based on a detailed mathematical model of the system. If a simplified mathematical model is used, then performance is sensitive to uncertainties and parameter variations in the robot. Although they show relatively good results, the requirement for model parameter identification has made these methods difficult to implement. This highlights the need for an adaptive controller that is not based on a mathematical model. The objective of this thesis was to design and evaluate a position and velocity controller for application to a pneumatic gantry robot. An Adaptive Neural Network (ANN) structure was implemented as both a controller and as a compensator. The implemented ANN had online training as this was considered to be the algorithm that had the greatest potential to enhance the performance of the pneumatic system. One axis of the robot was used to obtain results for the cases of velocity and position control. Seven different velocity controllers were tested and their performance compared. For position control, only two controllers were examined: conventional PID and PID with an ANN Compensator (ANNC). The position controllers were tuned for step changes in the setpoint. Their performance was evaluated as applied to sinusoid tracking. It was shown that the addition of ANN as a compensator could improve the performance of both position and velocity control. For position control, the ANNC improved the tracking performance by over 20%. Although performance was better than with conventional PID control, it was concluded that the level of improvement with ANNC did not warrant the extra effort in tuning and implementation.