We present a framework for the design of a compliant system; i.e. the concurrent design of a compliant mechanism with
embedded actuators and embedded sensors. Our methods simultaneously synthesize optimal structural topology and
placement of actuators and sensors for maximum energy efficiency and adaptive performance, while satisfying various
weight and performance constraints. The goal of this research is to lay an algorithmic framework for distributed
actuation and sensing within a compliant active structure.
Key features of the methodology include (1) the simultaneous optimization of the location, orientation, and size of
actuators concurrent with the compliant transmission topology and (2) the concepts of controllability and observability
that arise from the consideration of control, and their implementation in compliant systems design. The methods used
include genetic algorithms, graph searches for connectivity, and multiple load cases implemented with linear finite
element analysis. Actuators, modeled as both force generators and structural compliant elements, are included as
topology variables in the optimization. Results are provided for several studies, including: (1) concurrent actuator
placement and topology design for a compliant amplifier and (2) a shape-morphing aircraft wing demonstration with
three controlled output nodes. Central to this method is the concept of structural orthogonality, which refers to the
unique system response for each actuator it contains. Finally, the results from the controllability problem are used to
motivate and describe the analogous extension to observability for sensing.