In this paper, a segmental hidden Markov model (SHMM) with continuous observations, is developed to tackle the problem of remaining useful life (RUL) estimation. The proposed approach has the advantage of predicting the RUL and detecting the degradation states simultaneously. As the observation space is discretized into N segments corresponding to N hidden states, the explicit relationship between actual degradation paths and the hidden states can be depicted. The continuous observations are fitted by Gaussian, Gamma and Lognormal distribution, respectively. To select a more suitable distribution, model validation metrics are employed for evaluating the goodness-of-fit of the available models to the observed data. The unknown parameters of the SHMM can be estimated by the maximum likelihood method with the complete data. Then a recursive method is used for RUL estimation. Finally, an illustrate case is analyzed to demonstrate the accuracy and efficiency of the proposed method. The result also suggests that SHMM with observation probability distribution which is closer to the real data behavior may be more suitable for the prediction of RUL.

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