Complex human controls is a topic of much interest in the fields of robotics, manufacturing, space exploration and many others. Even simple tasks that humans perform with ease can be extremely complicated when observed from a controls and complex systems perspective. One such simple task is that of a human carrying and moving a coffee cup. Though this may be a mundane task for humans, when this task is modelled and analyzed, the system may be quite chaotic in nature. Understanding such systems is key to the development robots and autonomous systems that can perform these tasks themselves.
The coffee cup system can be simplified and modeled by a cart-and-pendulum system. Bazzi et al. and Maurice et al. present two different cart-and-pendulum systems to represent the coffee cup system ,. The purpose of this project was to build upon these systems and to gain a better understanding of the coffee cup system and to determine where chaos existed within the system. The honors thesis team first worked with their senior design group to develop a mathematical model for the cart-and-pendulum system based on the Bazzi and Maurice papers ,. This system was analyzed and then built upon by the honors thesis team to build a cart-and-two-pendulum model to represent the coffee cup system more accurately.
Analysis of the single pendulum model showed that there exists a low frequency region where the pendulum and the cart remain in phase with each other and a high frequency region where the cart and pendulum have a π phase difference between them. The transition point of the low and high frequency region is determined by the resonant frequency of the pendulum. The analysis of the two-pendulum system also confirmed this result and revealed that differences in length between the pendulum cause the pendulums to transition to the high frequency regions at separate frequency. The pendulums have different resonance frequencies and transition into the high frequency region based on their own resonant frequency. This causes a range of frequencies where the pendulums are out of phase from each other. After both pendulums have transitioned, they remain in phase with each other and out of phase from the cart.
However, if the length of the pendulum is decreased too much, the system starts to exhibit chaotic behavior. The short pendulum starts to act in a chaotic manner and the phase relationship between the pendulums and the carts is no longer maintained. Since the pendulum length represents the distance between the particle of coffee and the top of the cup, this implies that coffee near the top of the cup would cause the system to act chaotically. Further analysis would be needed to determine the reason why the length affects the system in this way.