This paper addresses the problem of obtaining models of nonlinear mechanisms for use in virtual prototyping systems. The objective of the described modeling procedure is to more accurately represent the feel of complex mechanisms in force feedback applications. The model structure selected for this study is a 2nd-order impedance model, with mass, damping, stiffness, and coulomb friction that vary with position. An automated testbed system is described, as well as a segmented least-squares algorithm for estimating position-varying model parameters. Baseline results are obtained for a system comprised of a mass, dashpot, and nonlinear (hardening) spring.

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