Tracking Control Theory Development

In engineered systems, a large class involves creating motions following certain desired trajectories. For the automotive propulsion system, such motions are generated by interconnected complex mechanical systems. For example, the camshaft that is connected to the crankshaft opens and closes the intake and exhaust valves. The piston that forms the combustion chamber is also connected to the crankshaft. Those mechanical motions control the gas exchange and compression dynamics and directly affect the combustion efficiency and emissions. To gain flexibility for controlling the critical dynamics, we propose to replace the mechanical components with electronically controlled mechatronic actuators. However, once the mechanical links are removed, the ability to ensure precise motion of the mechatronic systems becomes necessary, which leads to this work.

Camless Engine

The motivation to improve fuel efficiency and reduce missions of the internal combustion engine comes from the dwindling oil reserves and the increased concerns about climate change. A key step towards realizing these improvements is to introduce flexibilities into the fundamental subsystems used for air and fuel management. Traditional air management systems use camshaft based mechanisms to actuate the intake/exhaust valves and have very little or no flexibility. The benefits offered by fully flexible valve actuation motivate the development of electronically controlled “Camless valve actuation systems”.

Free Piston Engine

The free piston engine is one of the alternatives of the conventional internal combustion engines. Instead of crank shaft, the pistons are synchronized by the hydraulic fluids and are able to vary the compression ratio. This technology provides a compact engine with high efficiency, while in the meantime, imposes control challenges in terms of precise and robust engine operation.

Common Rail Fuel Injection System

Compared to traditional fuel metering system, such as the carburetor and port fuel injection, the direct fuel injection can provide more flexible and more precise fuel supply. This helps engineers to design an engine to achieve desired fuel consumption and low emission without compromising on power output.


Transmission is a critical part of the automotive propulsion systems. It is undergoing significant changes as the development of more stringent fuel economy, hybrid powertrain, and advanced combustions.

Hybrid Powertrain Research Platform

To provide an accurate and flexible hybrid powertrain emulation tool for hybrid powertrain development, a rapid prototyping hybrid powertrain research platform, which employs a transient hydrostatic dynamometer that emulates the dynamics of various hybrid power sources and different hybrid architectures, is constructed. This will greatly expedite the research on various hybrid powertrain architectures and control methodologies, without actually building the complete physical system.

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