Swinging a Playground Swing: Torque Controls for Inducing Sustained Oscillations [Applications of Control]

Sergiy Koshkin, Vojin Jovanovic
2022 IEEE Control Systems  
Models of a playground swing have been studied since the 1960s. However, in most of them, the position of the swinger is controlled directly. This simplifies the problem but hides the mechanics of torques applied to keep the swing moving in a regular pattern. This article studies these mechanics. Two models of a swing with torques as controls that we consider are identical to popular models of modern robotics: the Acrobot and reaction wheel pendulum. However, the control task of sustaining the
more » ... wing's regular oscillations by a static feedback control is new and challenging, especially when damping in the joint connecting the swing to the frame is considered. We develop two types of controls to accomplish this task. One works for small damping and is based on linearizing the undamped system by a suitable preliminary feedback control. The other works for large damping. In the steady state, the resulting closed-loop system describes a harmonically driven damped pendulum (a simple system known for its complex behavior), including chaotic motion for some parameter values. To address such complexities, we build free parameters into the controls, then adjust them based on simulations to avoid chaos and achieve regular oscillations that are seen on playgrounds.
doi:10.1109/mcs.2021.3139552 fatcat:ivfehd5y65empmeny7aby4es2i