This paper presents a methodology of designing, modeling, and controlling a fully pneumatic semi-active vibration isolator system. The prototype vibration isolator system consists of an air spring, a variable orifice valve, and an accumulator which has the ability to simultaneously adjust the damping and natural frequency characteristics of the system. This paper presents a comprehensive work of modeling, hardware design, control design, and experimental validation of the proposed semi-active vibration isolation system. A higher fidelity model is obtained by complete characterization of nonlinear relationships between pressure versus volume and effective orifice area versus ride height. The performance of three semi-active controller designs — Linear Quadratic Impulse (LQI), Modified Skyhook, and Relative Displacement — is evaluated and compared experimentally using an OEM Peterbilt cabin suspension unit. The results demonstrate that the properly tuned semi-active suspension provides increased vibration isolation over the traditional passive cabin suspension design.

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