Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronic & Biomedical Engineering


In the past forty years, the concept of controllable vehicle suspension has attracted extensive attention. Since high price of an active suspension system and deficiencies on a passive suspension, researchers pay a lot attention to semi-active suspension. Magneto-rheological fluid (MRF) is always an ideal material of semi-active structure. Thanks to its outstanding features like large yield stress, fast response time, low energy consumption and significant rheological effect. MR damper gradually becomes a preferred component of semi-active suspension for improving the riding performance of vehicle. However, because of the inherent nonlinear nature of MR damper, one of the challenging aspects of utilizing MR dampers to achieve high levels of performance is the development of an appropriate control strategy that can take advantage of the unique characteristics of MR dampers. This is why this project has studied semi-active MR control technology of vehicle suspensions to improve their performance.

Focusing on MR semi-active suspension, the aim of this thesis sought to develop system structure and semi-active control strategy to give a vehicle opportunity to have a better performance on riding comfort.

The issues of vibration control of the vehicle suspension were systematically analysed in this project. As a part of this research, a quarter-car test rig was built; the models of suspension and MR damper were established; the optimization work of mechanical structure and controller parameters was conducted to further improve the system performance; an optimized MR damper (OMRD) for a vehicle suspension was designed, fabricated, and tested. To utilize OMRD to achieve higher level of performance, an appropriate semi-active control algorithm, state observer-based Takagi-Sugeno fuzzy controller (SOTSFC), was designed for the semi-active suspension system, and its feasibility was verified through an experiment. Several tests were conducted on the quarter-car suspension to investigate the real effect of this semiactive control by changing suspension damping.

In order to further enhance the vibration reduction performance of the vehicle, a fullsize variable stiffness and variable damping (VSVD) suspension was further designed, fabricated, and tested in this project. The suspension can be easily installed into a vehicle suspension system without any change to the original configuration. A new 3- degree of freedom (DOF) phenomenological model to further accurately describe the dynamic characteristic of the VSVD suspension was also presented. Based on a simple on-off controller, the performance of the variable stiffness and damping suspension was verified numerically. In addition, an innovative TS fuzzy modelling based VSVD controller was designed. The TS fuzzy modelling controller includes a skyhook damping control module and a state observer based stiffness control module which considering road dominant frequency in real-time. The performance evaluation of the VSVD control algorithm was based on the quarter-car test rig which equipping the VSVD suspension. The experiment results showed that this strategy increases riding comfort effectively, especially under off-road working condition.

The semi-active control system developed in this thesis can be adapted and used on a vehicle suspension in order to better control vibration.

FoR codes (2008)

091302 Automation and Control Engineering, 091304 Dynamics, Vibration and Vibration Control, 091307 Numerical Modelling and Mechanical Characterisation



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.