The formulation of multibody dynamics in terms of natural coordinates (NCs) leads to equations of motion in the form of differential-algebraic equations (DAEs). A characteristic feature of the natural coordinates approach is a constant mass matrix. The DAEs make possible (i) the systematic assembly of open-loop and closed-loop multibody systems, (ii) the design of state-of-the-art structure-preserving integrators such as energy-momentum or symplectic-momentum schemes, and (iii) the direct link to nonlinear finite element methods. However, the use of NCs in the optimal control of multibody systems presents two major challenges. First, the consistent application of actuating joint-forces becomes an issue since conjugate joint-coordinates are not directly available. Second, numerical methods for optimal control with index-3 DAEs are still in their infancy. The talk will address the two aforementioned issues. In particular, a new energy-momentum consistent method for the optimal control of multibody systems in terms of NCs will be presented.

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