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Systems Analysis Model Simul, 200?, Vol. 00, No. 0, pp.

114

MODELING AND ANALYSIS OF HYSTERESIS IN


HARMONIC DRIVE GEARS
RACHED DHAOUADIa,* and FATHI GHORBELb
a
Division of Electrical, Electronics and Computer Engineering,
American University of Sharjah, P.O. Box 26666, Sharjah, UAE;
b
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Rice University, 6100 Main Street,
Houston, TX 77005, USA

(Received 5 February 2002)


In this article, a mathematical model and its parameter identification scheme are proposed for harmonic drive
gears with compliance and hysteresis. The hysteresis phenomenon in harmonic drives is described by a
nonlinear differential equation representing the torquedisplacement relationship across the flexpline of the
harmonic drive. The representation is equivalent to having the combination of nonlinear stiffness and
nonlinear viscous damping. Numerical simulations along with experimental data have been used to validate
the proposed modeling concept.
Keywords: Harmonic drive gear; Hysteresis; Nonlinear stiffness; Nonlinear ordinary differential equation

1. INTRODUCTION
Harmonic drives have been designed and used in demanding industrial and
instrumentation servo systems such as industrial robots and medical equipment,
where they provide high velocity reduction in a relatively small package permitting
high torque amplification with only small motors. Numerous contributions have been
made to the intuitive understanding and analytical description of harmonic drives.
However, their inherent nonlinear characteristics have not been clearly analyzed. The
three main nonlinear transmission attributes in harmonic drives responsible for
motion transmission performance degradation include nonlinear stiffness, friction,
and kinematic error. The transmission compliance and the internal dynamic friction
mechanisms, resulting in hysteresis curves when torque is plotted against angular
displacements, are controversial issues regarding the primary source of energy storage
and dissipation in harmonic drives [10,11,1315]. The accurate modeling of a total
harmonic drive system (including the actuator, harmonic drive, sensors, and load)
presents therefore a difficult problem. In much of the literature, the actuators providing
the drive torques are modeled as pure torque sources, or as first-order lags. Numerous
models have been proposed also to represent either the general system dynamics or
*Corresponding author. E-mail: rdhaouadi@aus.ac.ae
ISSN 0232-9298 print: ISSN 1029-4902 online 200? Taylor & Francis Ltd
DOI: 10.1080/0232929032000115137

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some aspects of nonlinear friction and compliance effects. The majority of these models
have been either too complicated, with parameters that are difficult to determine, or too
simple, assuming a linearized model and neglecting the nonlinear effects. The physical
realities of the system have therefore limited the acceptance of these models. There is
therefore a need to better understand the kinematic, dynamic, and transmission properties of harmonic drive gears, and their interaction with actuators and external loads.
The hysteresis phenomenon has been also studied in many other areas of engineering.
The most familiar example is the ferromagnetic hysteresis. The magnetic hysteresis
model admits descriptions in terms of hysteresis operators [12], or in terms of differential
equations. The former description is used during mathematical analysis in order to get
existence, uniqueness, and regularity results. The latter description is very useful for
numerical computations and construction of the global model in terms of partial
models given by dynamic equations. Bouc [1] used differential equations to model the
hysteresis relationship. His model is based on the variation of the multivalued sign function. The problem of describing a material with hysteresis can reduce to that of finding a
nonlinear or a piecewise linear function of the input signal v and the output signal w, so
that w forms a classical hysteresis loop when v is a sinusoid. The work of Hodgdon [8,9]
and Coleman and Hodgdon [5,6] shows that Boucs model is useful in applied electromagnetics because the functions and parameters can be fine tuned to match experimental
results in a given situation. Choua and Stromsoe [2,3] and Chua and Bass [4] also
presented another general theory of hysteresis, considering constitutive models that
take the form of first order differential equations. The main advantages of their
models over existing models is its simplicity and the constructive procedure available
for determining the nonlinear functions describing the model.
This article deals with the mathematical modeling of hysteresis in harmonic drives for
the purpose of developing effective controllers for electro-mechanical actuators with harmonic drives. Our proposed approach uses differential equations to model the hysteresis
relationship, which is resulting from the combined effect of the nonlinear flexibility of the
flexpline and friction. In our case, position and speed satisfy an Euler-like differential
equation describing the system dynamics. The representation of the hysterisis phenomenon by a differential equation is a useful approach to describe the overall harmonic
drive system with ordinary differential equations that are smooth and well posed [1,3].
The problem of describing the harmonic drive hysteresis can reduce to that of finding
two nonlinear functions of the angular displacement and speed, one is representing
the nonlinear stiffness and the other the nonlinear viscous damping, so that the combination of both forms a classical hysteresis loop when the displacement is a sinusoid.
This article is organized as follows. Section 2 presents the harmonic drive system and
the experimental setup. Section 3 presents the proposed dynamic model of hysteresis.
The dynamics of the setup including the new harmonic drive model is given in
Section 4 and the parameters identification procedure in Section 5. The simulation
and experimental results with the model validation, discussion, and conclusions are
given in Sections 6 and 7.

2. HARMONIC DRIVE SETUP


The harmonic drive system considered for our analysis is composed of a motor actuator, a harmonic drive gear, and an inertial load. The harmonic drive gear consists of the

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FIGURE 1 View of the harmonic drive test apparatus.

mechanical assembly of three components: a rigid Circular Spline, an elliptical Wave


Generator, and a nonrigid flexible spline or Flexspline, which form together a compact
high-torque, high-ratio, in-line gear mechanism. A harmonic drive test apparatus was
designed and built at Rice University as a platform to perform various types of experiments on the harmonic drive and to characterize the different errors inherent in its
operation while preventing any external error component from being imposed [7].
The system is shown in Fig. 1. It has its major axis of motion in the vertical plane to
avoid the radial loading problem. A special design of vertical support plates and circular steel pipe sections with a highly stable platform was also used to maintain torsional
integrity of the system. Effort was also put into making the linkage joining the motor,
harmonic drive, and torque sensor very rigid. This aspect is important since the objective was to avoid any torsion in the system produced by elements other than the
flexpline and the harmonic drive as a hole. The harmonic drive system is driven by
an AC servo motor with a dedicated power supply and controller. The total system
is controlled with an IBM PC to which it is interfaced through a DSP board made
by dSPACE [16]. Position feedback from the motor and the load are provided with
high resolution optical encoders. The torque sensor used is a DC-operated noncontact
torque sensor with a large capacity matching that of the harmonic drive. The signals
and feedback are processed by the dSPACE board and may be displayed at the terminal
in real-time. The system has also the ability to store acquired data for later processing.
This data will be loaded into Matlab for further analysis and evaluation. The programs
necessary for the operation and control of the system were developed so that the user
could communicate with the system through a Windows interface and dSPACE.
3. Formulation of the Dynamic Model of Hysteresis
Our approach of modeling consists of postulating the following mathematical representation relating two variables x(t) and y(t) [3]:
dy
hygxt  f yt,
dt

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where f(), g(), and h() are real-valued continuous and differentiable functions with
continuous first-order derivatives and satisfying
f 0 > 0,

g0 > 0

0<h<1
where the prime denotes differentiation with respect to the functions argument, and
 and  are finite positive constants.
With an appropriate selection of f, g, and h, Eq. (1) can be designed to exhibit the
desired nonlinear phenomena of hysteresis. The conditions imposed on f, g, and h
will insure the existence and uniquences of a solution of (1) when x(t) is a continuous
variable. This property is very important, since our objective is to obtain a reliable
hysteresis model that can be integrated easily in the global harmonic drive model to
yield a well-posed set of ordinary differential equations.
The describing characteristic of interest for our present purpose is the graph of
the torque  applied to the harmonic drive flexpline as a function of the angular
displacement  across the flexpline, relative to a fixed reference position


1
 2,
N

where 1is the wave-generator position, 2 is the load position at the end side of the
flexpline and N is the reduction ratio. If we replace the variable x by the torsional
torque  and the variable y by the angular displacement , Eq. (1) becomes:
dt
hg t  f t:
dt
This equation can be rearranged into the form


t
1
t g
f t:
ht

Equation (4) can be interpreted as the mechanical dynamic equation across the
flexpline describing the parallel combination of a nonlinear torsional spring and a
nonlinear viscous damping. The function f() determines the stiffness curve while the
function g1() represents the nonlinear dynamic friction as shown in Fig. 2.

FIGURE 2 Proposed mechanical analog of the hysteresis model.

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The validity of the nonlinear model (4) will then be established. This consists of first
showing that the postulated model exhibits the same significant properties as the actual
system and then verifying that the model gives realistic responses to one or more test
signals.
4. FORMULATION OF THE EQUATIONS OF MOTION
OF THE HARMONIC DRIVE
In order to study the dynamic behavior of the complete harmonic drive system, the
model of hysteresis will be combined with the wave generator and load dynamic
models. The following set of equations represent the complete model of the harmonic
drive:
_, 
m
N

J2 2 B2 _2 L  _,  0

J1 1 B1 _1 f

_,  g1

 _ 

f 
h

1
 2
N

where J1 is the total motor and wave generator inertia, J2 is the total load inertia,
1 is the motor position, 2 is the load position at the end side of the flexpline, N is
the reduction gear ratio, B1 and B2 are the viscous damping coefficients at the motor
side and the load side,  is the transmitted torque across the flexpline,  m is the driving
torque applied by the electric motor, and  L is the load torque.  f represents a dry
frictional torque component at the bearings of the wave generator which is a
combination of the necessary torque to initiate motion from rest (static friction) and
the friction present during stabilized motion (sticktion).
We note that the transmitted torque  across the harmonic drive represents a
nonlinear coupling factor between the motor side and the load side dynamics.
4.1. Locked Rotor Case
When the output of the drive is locked 2 0, the motor side can still rotate within a
limited angular range allowed by the flexibility of the harmonic drive gear. The
model of the setup in this case becomes
2 0

1
N

10

J  B_ _,  n

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J N 2 J1

12

B N 2 B1

13

n Nm  f

14

5. NONLINEAR FUNCTIONS IDENTIFICATION


In order to identify the nonlinear functions f, g, and h, a pair of waveforms {(t), (t)}
must be measured. If (t) is selected as the excitation signal and d/dt is known, then
Eq. (4) is reduced to an algebraic relationship to find the output signal (t). To be
able to perform the proposed experiments, the experimental setup should
be configured in a way to allow the angular displacement to be manipulated as the
excitation signal. This consists in having the load side of the harmonic drive locked
and then forcing the desired angular displacement through a feedback position control
loop. The position control loop gains are adjusted so as to get the desired accuracy of
the following reference waveform ref.
The analysis will proceed by carrying out a sequence of well instrumented and
carefully performed laboratory tests in which the excitation signal ref with a given
frequency and amplitude is assumed. These experiments produce (t) versus t and (t)
versus t graphs in pairs which lead to a complete (t) versus (t) system characteristic.
Given one specific hysteresis loop, the procedure to construct the nonlinear functions
f, g, and h is as follows [3]: If the displacement signal (t) is a cosine waveform with a
period T, then for each value of , there exist two instants of time t1 and t2 such that:
t1 t2 0

t1, t2 2 0, T

_t1 _t2

15
16

Then with the function g odd, we have:


g1

 _

 _

t1
t2
g1
Xd
ht1
ht2

17

In view of Eq. (4), we note that ((t1), (t1)) and ((t2), (t2)) represent points on the
hysteresis loop with the same ordinate:
t1  t2 2Xd
t1 t2 f

1



t1 t2
f 1 Xm
2

18
19

Geometrically, Xm represents the midpoint of the two points on the hysteresis loop
corresponding to t1 and t2 and Xd is the horizontal distance from the edge of the
hysteresis loop to the midpoint as shown in Fig. 3. Therefore, the locus of the variable
Xm determines the function f while the locus of the variable Xd determines the function g.

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FIGURE 3

Measurement of stiffness and damping curves.

Next, the locus of each of the functions f and g is fitted to an analytical odd polynomial function. Assuming that h is a unity function (h() 1), the f and g parameters
can be estimated through a nonlinear least-square fit.
Xm

5
X

a 21 "f

20

 21
b _
"g

21

1

Xd

5
X
1

where (a) and (b) are the function parameters and "f, "g are the model equation errors.
For each equation the optimum parameters in the least-square sense are determined
to minimize the criterion functions

Jf

n
X

"2f i

i1

Jg

n
X
i1

n
X

"
Xm i 

i1

"2g i

n
X

5
X

#2
a i

21

22

1

"
Xd i 

i1

5
X

b _i

21

#2
23

1

where n is the number of data points in the hysteresis loop.


The estimated parameters are next used to find the estimated nonlinear functions f^, g^ .
f^

5
X

a^  21

24

21
b^ _

25

1

g^ 1 _

5
X
1

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The estimated transmitted torque ^ at the output of the harmonic drive is finally
expressed as:
^, _ g^ 1 _ f^

26

6. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS
Various experiments have been carried out on the harmonic drive. Figure 4 shows
the measured motor position which was controlled to follow a sinusoidal reference
signal with 10 amplitude and 0.005 Hz frequency. Figure 5 shows the resulting
transmitted torque across the flexpline. It can be seen that the torque is not a pure
sine wave, which reflects the nonlinear relationship with the displacement. Figure 6

FIGURE 4

Measured angular displacement.

FIGURE 5 Measured transmitted torque.

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FIGURE 6

Measured steady state hysteresis curve.

shows the hysteresis curve obtained when the torque is plotted as a function of the
displacement. The results obtained also show that the hysteresis curve depends on
the amplitude of the displacement. It follows also that the resulting torque depends
on all the previous angular displacements which have been applied on the elastic
body of the harmonic drive.
In order to identify the nonlinear functions f and g, the pair of waveforms ((t), (t))
is used. Given the measured hysteresis loop, the procedure is to construct the locus
of the points Xm and Xd representing respectively the midpoint of the hysteresis loop
and the horizontal distance from the edge of the loop to the midpoint. The locus of
the variable Xm determines the function f while the locus of the variable Xd determines
the function g.
To plot the function g, the angular velocity d/dt is needed. The measured velocity is
given in Fig. 7(a). The high frequency noise in the speed signal is a result of the differentiation of the angular position measured from the position sensor. Because of the
high frequency noise, the accuracy of the parameters estimates of the function g will
be affected. On the other hand, filtering the speed signal will introduce a phase shift
which will also affect the accuracy. Therefore the motor velocity is replaced with an estimated signal obtained from the angular position . Since  is assumed to follow a pure
sine wave, its derivative will also be a sine signal displaced by 90 or equivalently a
cosine function as shown in Fig. 7(b). The experimental values of the f and g functions
are shown in Figs. 8 and 9. The estimated parameters of the analytical odd polynomial
function are listed in Table I.

7. SIMULATION RESULTS AND MODEL VALIDATION


To validate the proposed hysteresis model, a simulation of the harmonic drive system is
performed with the locked output shaft. The data of the identified parameters is used to
represent the stiffness and viscous damping nonlinear functions of the flexspline.
The transmitted torque across the flexspline is computed using the actual displacement
angle and the estimated stiffness and damping functions as given by Eq. (26). Figure 7(b)

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FIGURE 7

Measured and estimated angular velocity.

FIGURE 8 Measured and stiffness function.

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11

shows the results of simulation in comparison with experiments. We clearly observe a


very good match of experimental results with those of simulation. This proves that
the proposed model is very well suited for the purpose. The proposed model is
shown to be useful because the functions and parameters can be fine tuned to match
experimental results in a given situation. The nonlinear ordinary differential equation
has guaranteed existence and uniqueness of solution. The nonlinear functions are
also strictly monotonically increasing and differentiable functions. Thus, the resulting

FIGURE 9 Measured viscous damping function.


TABLE I Identified parameters
Parameter
a^1
a^2
a^3
a^4
a^5
b^1
b^2
b^3
b^4
b^5

Value

Unit

14.133
3.71  103
 1.471  105
3.778  106
 3.370  107
65.594
5.571  107
 2.485  1012
5.615  1016
 4.673  1020

N m/(deg)
N m/(deg)3
N m/(deg)5
N m/(deg)7
N m/(deg)9
N m/(deg/s)
N m/(deg/s)3
N m/(deg/s)5
N m/(deg/s)7
N m/(deg/s)9

TABLE II A characteristics of the harmonic


drive system
Characteristic
Gear rated output torque
Gear maximum input speed
Gear reduction ratio
Wave generator inertia
Motor rated output torque
Motor rated speed
Motor inertia

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Value
226 N m
2800 rpm
50
0.436  103
3.8 N m
4000 rpm
0.29  103 kg m2

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FIGURE 10 Measured and estimated stiffness function (): measured; (- - -): estimated.

FIGURE 11 Measured and estimated viscous damping function (): measured; (- - -): estimated.

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FIGURE 12 Measured and estimated hysteresis loop (): measured; (- - -): estimated.

differential equation will be easily analyzed by standard nonlinear systems stability


analysis tools and control methodologies. see also Table II, Figs. 812.

8. CONCLUSION
A mathematical model for the hysteresis phenomenon in harmonic drives has been
presented. The proposed model is described by a nonlinear differential equation
representing the torquedisplacement relationship across the flexpline of the harmonic
drive. A mechanical analogy obtained through the proposed methodology amounts to
having the combination of a nonlinear stiffness and a nonlinear viscous damping.
Numerical simulations and experiments have been used to test this modeling concept.

References
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[2] L.O. Chua and K.A. Stromsmoe (1970 Nov). Lymped circuit models for nonlinear inductors exhibiting
hysteresis loops. IEEE Trans. on Circuit Theory, CT-17(4), 564574, .
[3] L.O. Chua and K.A. Stromsmoe (1971). Mathematical models for dynamic hysteresis loops. Int. Journal of
Eng. Science, 9 435450.
[4] L.O. Chua and S.C. Bass (1972 Jan). A generalized hysteresis model. IEEE Trans. on Circuit Theory,
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[8] M. Hodgdon (1988 Jan). Application of a theory of ferromagnetic hysteresis. IEEE Trans. on Magnetics,
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[11] G. Legnany and R. Faglia (1992 March). Harmonic drive transmissions: the effects of their elasticity,
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[12] J.W. Macki, P. Nistri and P. Zecca (1993 March). Mathematical models for hysteresis. SIAM Review,
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[13] T. Marilier and J.A. Richard (1989). Nonlinear mechanic and electric behaviour of a robotic axis with a
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LD31NET Users Guide.

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