Feasibility of a sliding seat utilizing adaptive control of a magnetorheological (MR) energy absorber (MREA) to minimize loads imparted to a payload mass in a ground vehicle for frontal impact speeds as high as 7 m/s (15.7 mph) is investigated. The crash pulse for a given impact speed was assumed to be a rectangular deceleration pulse having a prescribed magnitude and duration. The adaptive control objective is to bring the payload (occupant plus seat) mass to a stop using the available stroke, while simultaneously accommodating changes in impact velocity and occupant mass ranging from a 5th percentile female to a 95th percentile male. The payload is first treated as a single-degree-of-freedom (SDOF) rigid lumped mass, and two adaptive control algorithms are developed: (1) constant Bingham number control, and (2) constant force control. To explore the effects of occupant compliance on adaptive controller performance, a multi-degree-of-freedom (MDOF) lumped mass biodynamic occupant model was integrated with the seat mass. The same controllers were used for both the SDOF and MDOF cases based on SDOF controller analysis because the biodynamic degrees of freedom are neither controllable nor observable. The designed adaptive controllers successfully controlled load-stroke profiles to bring payload mass to rest in the available stroke and reduced payload decelerations. Analysis showed extensive coupling between the seat structures and occupant biodynamic response, although minor adjustments to the control gains enabled full use of the available stroke.

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