Abstract

The knowledge of control engineering for mechanical engineers seems to become more important with the continuous development of automated technologies. To cultivate this knowledge, many experimental devices have been proposed and used. Devices with direct current (DC) motors are widely used because the DC motors can be controlled with sufficient accuracy based on the classical linear control theory. Mobile robots are used as educational platforms attracting the attention of students in various problem-based learning subjects. However, they have been hardly used to teach linear control theory because of the nonlinearity. This paper shows an experimental curriculum to learn control theory using a mobile robot instead of a motor. Although the model of the mobile robot is nonlinear, a strict linearization method makes it possible to adjust the control gains using the linear control theory. By applying the method, the characteristics of linear control systems are explicitly observed in the traveling paths of the mobile robot, so an experimental curriculum to learn the basic linear control theory can be realized using an inexpensive mobile robot. The proposed experimental curriculum was carried out in a class of a mechanical engineering course, and its results are discussed in this paper.

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