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Smart Structures and Systems
  Volume 3, Number 2, April 2007 , pages 189-200

Position estimation and control of SMA actuators based on electrical resistance measurement
Gangbing Song, Ning Ma and Ho-Jun Lee

    As a functional material, shape memory alloy (SMA) has attracted much attention and research effort to explore its unique properties and its applications in the past few decades. Some of its properties, in particular the electrical resistance (ER) based self-sensing property of SMA, have not been fully studied. Electrical resistance of an SMA wire varies during its phase transformation. This variation is an inherent property of the SMA wire, although it is highly nonlinear with hysteresis. The relationship between the displacement and the electrical resistance of an SMA wire is deterministic and repeatable to some degree, therefore enabling the self-sensing ability of the SMA. The potential of this self-sensing ability has not received sufficient exploration so far, and even the previous studies in literature lack generality. This paper concerns the utilization of the self-sensing property of a spring-biased Nickel-Titanium (Nitinol) SMA actuator for two applications: ER feedback position control of an SMA actuator without a position sensor, and estimation of the opening of a SMA actuated valve. The use of the self-sensing property eliminates the need for a position sensor, therefore reducing the cost and size of an SMA actuator assembly. Two experimental apparatuses are fabricated to facilitate the two proposed applications, respectively. Based on open-loop testing results, the curve fitting technique is used to represent the nonlinear relationships between the displacement and the electrical resistance of the two SMA wire actuators. Using the mathematical models of the two SMA actuators, respectively, a proportional plus derivative controller is designed for control of the SMA wire actuator using only electrical resistance feedback. Consequently, the opening of the SMA actuated valve can be estimated without using an extra sensor.
Key Words
    shape memory alloy; electric resistance; feedback control; sensorless feedback control.
Gangbing Song; Department of Mechanical Engineering at University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA
Ning Ma; Cyrus Solutions Corporation, Conroe, Texas, USA
Ho-Jun Lee; NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, USA

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