A magnetic levitation (maglev) system is inherently nonlinear and open-loop unstable because of the nature of magnetic force. Most controllers for maglev systems are designed based on a nominal linearized model. System variations and uncertainties are not accommodated. The controllers are generally designed to satisfy gain and phase margin specifications, which may not guarantee a bound on the sensitivity. To address these issues, this paper proposes a robust control design method based on Quantitative Feedback Theory (QFT) applied to a single degree-of-freedom (DOF) maglev system. The controller is designed to successfully meet the stability requirement, robustness specifications, and bounds on the sensitivity. Experiments verify that the controller maintains stable levitation even with 100% load variation. Experiments prove that it guarantees the transient response design requirements even with 100% load change and 39% model uncertainties. The QFT control design method discussed in this paper can be applied to other open-loop unstable systems as well as systems with large uncertainties and variations to improve system robustness.

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