Modified model-based control of shake tables for online acceleration tracking

Amirali Najafi, Billie F. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The interest in shake tables stems from a need to simulate earthquake behavior in laboratory settings. However, the inherent properties and nonlinearities associated with electromechanical and servohydraulic shake tables, combined with issues of table-structure interaction, make accurate reproduction of earthquake acceleration time histories a challenging problem. The classical approach to control shake tables has been the Transfer Function Iteration (TFI) method. The tuning of the TFI controller is an offline iterative process, conducted using small amplitude ground motions. Effective compensation is not achievable for system nonlinearities that are not projected in the iterative tuning process. To address this problem, researchers have developed online compensation techniques, which can maintain tracking performance for the earthquake signals more effectively. Model-based controllers (MBC) are a class of online controllers which use an identified model of the shake table-structure for compensation. The MBC employs feedforward and feedback controllers to ensure that the shake table tracks a specified earthquake ground motion despite the presence of table and structural nonlinearities. However, the feedback controllers in MBC do not always maintain tracking accuracy and can result in loss of robustness when changes occur in the shake table and structure dynamics. This paper introduces a modified model-based controller (mMBC) for acceleration tracking as an improvement on the existing MBC architecture. A stability condition is introduced to assess the robustness of the new modified control architecture. Through numerical and experimental studies, the improved tracking robustness of the mMBC architecture is demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1721-1737
Number of pages17
JournalEarthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics
Issue number15
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • acceleration tracking
  • actuator dynamics compensation
  • shake table testing
  • tracking robustness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Modified model-based control of shake tables for online acceleration tracking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this