This paper designs and builds an electromagnetic variable inertance (VI) device for a heavy duty vehicle seat suspension to reduce the vibration transferred to driver bodies. The conventional semi-active vibration control mainly applies the variable damping (VD) and variable stiffness (VS) devices. The VI device is equivalent to an inerter with the capability to vary its inertance, which is a new semi-active system inspired by the VS device design. The VI device consists of a transmission device, a VD device and two flywheels. By varying the damping of the VD device, the equivalent inertance of the VI device is controllable in real time. The VI device prototype is built with an electromagnetic VD device which is controlled by the duty cycle of the pulse width modulation signal. The test results verify the proposed system model and identify the unknown model parameters. Then, a seat suspension applies the VI device prototype for improving the ride comfort. Based on the system model, an implementable controller is proposed and experimentally validated. The proposed seat suspension system shows excellent performance in a random vibration experiment. Compared with a conventional passive seat suspension, the frequency-weighted root mean square acceleration of the proposed one reduces 35.7%. The VI device has expanded the application of the inerter and the area of the semi-active research; it shows great potential in vibration control.
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