High speed operation of conventional rail vehicles is limited by a number of dynamic problems including ride quality, curve negotiation, and hunting. Active control is investigated as a technique for improving rail vehicle performance at high speeds. An automatic controller of specified configuration and structure is defined based on the physics of the wheel-rail interaction dynamics which allow a decomposition of dynamic constraints into selected frequency bands and a methodology for selecting the controller parameters is presented. Two controller case studies are examined to demonstrate the effectiveness of controller configuration on rail vehicle performance in terms of ride quality and tracking errors on tangent track while allowing specified curve negotiation requirements to be met. Estimates of control power requirements are also obtained which show that the controller configurations considered produce improvements in vehicle performance—reduction of rms vehicle accelerations by a factor of between 5 and 6 and reduction of rms tracking errors by a factor of between 4 and 5—with modest expenditures of control—power between 1.5 and 2 kw per truck at a vehicle speed of 68.58m/s.

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