A novel algorithm for tuning controllers for nonlinear plants is presented. The algorithm iteratively minimizes a criterion of the control performance. For each controller update iteration, one experiment is performed with a reference signal slightly different from the previous reference signal. The input-output signals of the plant are used to identify a linear time-varying model of the plant which is then used to calculate an update of the controller parameters. The algorithm requires an initial feedback controller that stabilizes the closed loop for the desired reference signal and in its vicinity, and that the closed-loop outputs are similar for the previous and current reference signals. The tuning algorithm is successfully tested on a laboratory set-up of the Furuta pendulum.

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