This paper presents a novel method for the automated type synthesis of planar mechanisms and multibody systems. The method explicitly includes topology as a design variable in an optimization framework based on a genetic algorithm (GA). Each binary string genome of the GA represents the concatenation of the upper-right triangular portion of the link adjacency matrix of a mechanism. Different topologies can be explored by the GA by applying genetic operators to the genomes. The evolutionary process is not dependent on the results obtained from enumeration. Two examples of topology-based optimization show the applicability of this method to mechanism type synthesis problems. This method is distinct from others in the literature in that it represents the first fully automated algorithm for solving a general type synthesis problem with the help of a numeric optimizer.

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