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2016 European Control Conference (ECC)

June 29 - July 1, 2016. Aalborg, Denmark

Design of an Unknown Input Observer to Enhance Driver Experience

of Electric Power Steering Systems
M. Reichhartinger1 S.K. Spurgeon2 M. Weyrer3

Abstract Electric power steering (EPS) systems assist the

driver during manoeuvres by applying an additional steering
torque generated by an electric motor. Although there are many torque sensor torque sensor
advantages for electric actuated steering systems including fuel
efficiency, they are known to deteriorate the feel of the steering gear box
assisting motor
as experienced by the driver. This paper presents a sliding gear box
mode observer based estimation concept which provides signals assisting motor
to evaluate and improve perception and feel of the steering
as experienced by the driver. The proposed strategy is based
on a physically motivated dynamic model of a power steering
system and the measurements considered are typically available (a) Steering column EPS (b) Steering rack EPS
in any modern vehicle. The performance of the estimator is
investigated using numerical simulation as well as experimental
results obtained using a laboratory steering testbed.
Fig. 1: Steering column and steering rack EPS systems

common EPS realizations are shown. The main difference
Power steering systems have a long tradition in automo- between these two realizations is the place where the assist-
biles. The basic idea is to assist the driver of an automotive ing torque/force is introduced into the steering system. In the
vehicle during steering. The required steering torque intro- case of a column EPS system, the motor is mounted close
duced by a driver to carry out a desired steering manoeuvre to the steering wheel and the assistive torque acts on the
therefore may be significantly reduced. An actuator generat- steering column as in Fig. 1(a). The steering rack realization
ing the assistive torque has to be installed in the steering (see Fig. 1(b)) is characterized by an assistive force acting
system. The vast majority of power steering systems are on the steering rack. Steering column realizations typically
actuated by hydraulic actuators. They produce high assistive are used in lower and middle value cars. Compared to rack
forces and are characterized by high reliability. The main steering realizations, a column steering setup requires less
disadvantage of purely hydraulic driven systems is the energy powerful electric motors and consequently less space.
consumption of the hydraulic pump. Typically it is realized as A number of publications concerning the modelling and
a constant flow pump connected to the engine via a drive belt. control of EPS systems are available: A detailed model
It continuously maintains hydraulic pressure to the steering based on the Bond Graph modelling approach is presented
actuator, even in the case when no assistance is requested. In in [3]. The proposed physically motivated model of order
so-called electrohydraulic systems, an electric motor is used 8 is investigated using frequency domain characteristics and
to operate the hydraulic pump. Hence, the hydraulic circuit step response experiments. In [2] an overview of different
is decoupled from the engine and the speed of the electric EPS realizations and different types of electric drives used
motor can be adjusted according to current steering demands. in the context of EPS are discussed. The motor of an EPS
Although the electrohydraulic system significantly reduces system may also be used for enhanced parking assistance,
the energy consumption, so-called electric power steering steering speed dependent assistance and lane keeping or
(EPS) systems result [1] whereby the entire hydraulic circuit active return applications [4], [5]. A frequently implemented
is replaced by an electric motor and a torque sensor. Besides control approach is a map based actuation of the motor.
the motivation to further reduce the power consumption (and These so-called boost curves use the steering force/torque
therefore improve the fuel economy [2]), the EPS system is introduced by the driver and the vehicle speed to determine
introduced as a basis for autonomous driving, active steering the assistance torque [6]. Advanced control methods e.g.
and drive by wire applications. In Fig. 1 the two most based on optimization and H controller design techniques,
1 Markus Reichhartinger is with the Faculty of Electrical are applied in [7], [8], [9]. A loopshaping method and a
and Information Engineering, Institute of Automation and hydraulic actuated setup including boost curve actuation
Control, Graz University of Technology, 8010 Graz, Austria for an automated highway system is considered in [10]. A
2 Sarah K. Spurgeon is with the School of Engineering and Dig- combined Fuzzy - PID control concept is proposed in [11].
ital Arts, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NT, UK Although the fuzzy rules are explained in detail, the reference
3 M. Weyrer is with the Faculty of Technical Sciences, Institute of
torque of the controller is also assumed to be available
Networked and Embedded Systems at Alpen-Adria Universitat Klagenfurt, for map based evaluation of the applied steering torque.
9020 Klagenfurt, Austria The control approach is investigated using a step response

978-1-5090-2591-6 2016 EUCA 269

s , Td
simulation scenario. Ideas on fuzzy control techniques also
are used in [12], where the return-to-centre problem of EPS
systems is covered. This problem is frequently present in
EPS systems and originates from the installed motor which steering wheel
increases the moment of inertia and introduces additional
friction into the system. As a consequence, the steering wheel
does not return to the centre when the driver does not apply torque sensor ks , ds
any steering torque when the car is moving.
It is known from test track experiments and also from gear box
assessment tests1 that EPS systems already provide satisfying
performance against many evaluation criteria. However, the intermediate shaft motor (Tm )
driver perception of road and steering feedback (see e.g.
[13]) remains problematic. An important quantity relating
to the current force and torque at the tyres is the, typically % %
pinion steering rack
unmeasured, rack force. This paper estimates this force using
a sliding-mode observer. Such an estimate can inform an
EPS control scheme which considers the rack force in order
to improve the road feedback experienced by the driver. A
Fig. 2: Schematic diagram of the considered EPS setup.
different mathematical model to that given in [14], [15] is
proposed. Additionally the implementation of differentiators viscous friction with coefficients dm and ds . The stiffness of
suggested in [16], [17] is avoided. It is demonstrated that the torque sensor is given by ks . The gear ratio of the gear
although the so-called observer matching conditions are not box is given by rm and the pinion radius is given by rt .
satisfied the implementation of differentiators as frequently The torque introduced by the electric motor is given by Tm .
suggested in the literature is not required. The moment of inertia of the steering wheel and the steering
The paper is organized as follows: In section II the math- column is represented by Is . The moment of inertia It is
ematical model of the EPS system is presented and the determined by the mass m of the steering rack, the moment
problem formulation is given. The observer based estimator of inertia Im of the motor and the moment of inertia of the
is designed in section III. Results obtained by numerical intermediate shaft Ic , i.e.
simulations and real world experiments are shown in sections
IV and V. It = Ic + rm Im + rt2 m . (2)

II. PROBLEM FORMULATION Using the definition of the state variables x1 := s , x2 := t

and x3 := s t the differential equations (1) become
In Fig. 2 a schematic diagram of the considered column
EPS setup is depicted. At the steering wheel, the steering dx
= Ax + bTm + Dw (3a)
torque Td is applied by the driver. The angular velocity and dt
the angle of the steering wheel are denoted by s and s y = Cx (3b)
respectively. The torque sensor divides the steering column where
into two parts. The upper part consists of the steering wheel ds
Is kIss

0 0
and the steering column. The lower part consists of the
A := 0 dImt ks
, b := rImt ,
steering rack, the dc motor, gear box, the intermediate shaft It
1 1 0 0
and the steering pinion. The latter is used to transform the ro- 1 (4)
tational movement of the intermediate shaft into translational

Is 0    
rt Td 1 0 0
movement of the steering rack. Gear backlash introduced by D := 0 It , w = ,C = .
F 0 0 ks
the pinion and the gear box are neglected. The differential 0 0
equations governing the movement of the steering system are The output y represents the measured variables

ds y1 := x1 , and y2 := ks x3 , (5)
Is = Td ks (s t ) ds s , (1a)
dt where y1 represents the angular velocity of the steering wheel
dt and y2 is the signal measured by the torque sensor. These
It = ks (s t ) + rm Tm dm t rt F, (1b)
dt measurements are typically available in any conventional
where t and t denote the angular velocity and the position EPS system. The input vector w comprises the unknown
of the intermediate shaft respectively. Both the movement of inputs, the driver torque Td and the rack force F . The
the steering column and the intermediate shaft are affected by objective is to provide estimates of the unknown input w
and the unknown state variable x2 . These signals are required
1A report based on real experiments comparing hy- by enhanced EPS control architectures which provide power
draulic and electric actuated steering systems is available at assisted steering combined with satisfactory road-to-driver
comprehensive-comparison-test-feature. feedback.

III. AN UNKNOWN INPUT OBSERVER Assume the steering torque applied by the driver satisfies
An observer to estimate the unknown state variable x2 and

the unknown input w is designed2 . Note that the structure dt L1 .
of system (3) exactly corresponds with systems discussed
in [18], [19], [20]. In order to follow these approaches, the Choosing the constant observer parameters according to
invariant zeros of {A, D, C} have to be located in C and r
L1 L1
the observer matching condition 1 = 1.5 and 2 = 1.1 (12)
Is Is
! !
rank(CD) = rank(D) = m, (6) ensures that e1 and z1 converge to zero within finite time
(see e.g. [23], [24]) and the applied driver torque Td may be
where m denotes the number of unknown inputs must be reconstructed as Td := Is w1 .
satisfied. The system (3) has no invariant zeros but the
observer matching condition is violated as rank(D) = B. Estimation of x2 and reconstruction of F
2 and rank(CD) = 1. A remedy for this situation is
The observer design to estimate x2 follows the same
presented in [21, Part IV] where the presented algorithm
procedure as applied in section III-A. Here, the dynamic
first transforms the system into a so-called quasi block trian-
behaviour of the output y2 , the measured torque, is exploited.
gular observable form and successive application of super-
From equation (3)
twisting differentiators yields the desired finite estimation
error convergence. With this approach it is not guaranteed dy2
= ks y1 ks x2 . (13)
apriori that the proposed transformation yields the desired dt
representation for observer design. Another approach avail- The following observer is proposed
able in the literature is to consider an augmented output
composed of the measured outputs and their derivatives as dy2 1/2
= ks y1 + 3 by2 y2 e + w2 , (14a)
a new output [22]. This technique is used in [17] and two dt
additional differentiators are implemented in order to satisfy dw2 0
= 4 by2 y2 e . (14b)
the observer matching condition. In this paper additional dt
differentiators are avoided by exploiting the system structure. The estimation error dynamics is given by
The unknown input Td is reconstructed independently of the
estimation of x2 and F . Therefore, the design of the observer 1/2
= z2 3 be2 e , (15a)
consists of two parts: The estimations of Td , see section III-A dt
dz2 dx2 0
and the estimation of x2 and F , see section III-B = ks 4 be2 e , (15b)
dt dt
A. Estimation of Td where e2 := y2 y2 and z2 := ks x2 + w2 . Assuming that
From (3), consider the differential equation describing y1 : the angular acceleration of the intermediate shaft is bounded
dy1 ds 1 1
= y1 y2 + Td (7)

dt Is Is Is
dt L2
The observer is given by
the constant observer parameters are selected as
dy1 ds 1 1/2
= y1 y2 + 1 by1 y1 e + w1 , (8a) p
dt Is Is 3 = 1.5 ks L2 and 4 = 1.1ks L2 . (17)
dw1 0
= 2 by1 y1 e , (8b) This choice ensures that the trajectories of system (15)
converge to zero and the angular velocity of the intermediate
k k
where by1 y1 e := |y1 y1 | sign (y1 y1 ). The dynam- shaft is reconstructed by
ics of the estimation error e1 := y1 y1 is governed by w2
2 := . (18)
de1 1 1/2
= Td 1 be1 e w1 , (9)
dt Is The estimate of the rack force F is based on the observer
As z1 := 1
w1 , the error dynamics may be written as dz3 dm 1 rm
Is Td = x
2 + y2 + x2 z3 )
Tm + 3 ( (19)
dt It It It
de1 1/2
= z1 1 be1 e , (10a) which relies on the estimate given in (18). The injection term
dz1 1 dTd 3 is designed as
= 2 be1 e . (10b)
dt Is dt x2 z3 ) = 5 b
3 (
x2 z3 e w3 , (20a)
2 Notethat the variable x1 is available from measurement and x3 may
dw3 0
= 6 b
x2 z3 e . (20b)
be computed using y2 , see equation (5). dt

I. The constant observer parameters 1 , 2 , 3 and 4 are
chosen based on measured signals from the testbed described
in section V. It is known that in general the absolute value
of the applied steering torque does not exceed 5N m. Under
harsh conditions, it is assumed that a driver changes the
steering direction abruptly and 0.2 seconds are required to
d d reapply the maximum steering torque (e.g. from 5N m to
2 5N m). This yields L1 = 50 and 1 and 2 are selected
as given in equation (12). The constant L2 , see equation
- spring and damper % k
(16), is obtained via numerical differentiation of available
modelling tyre impact measurements. This reveals that L2 = 100 rad/s2 , which
is used to determine 3 and 4 , see equation (17). The
Fig. 3: The impact of the tyres is modeled by a spring and parameters of the adaptation law (23) are selected following
damper setup. several simulation scenarios and are chosen as = 800,
= 0.1, = 1, = 18 and = 21. The assistive
Introducing the error e3 := x
2 z3 and assuming x2 = x
2 , torque Tm applied by the motor is computed by a boost
the estimation error dynamics is curve as suggested in [7]. In order to excite the system
by an appropriate steering action, a steering controller was
de3 d x
x rt
= (x2 z3 ) 2= 2 F 3 (e3 ) . (21) implemented. It applies a steering torque Td such that the
dt dt It steering angle s tracks a given reference. Here, the steering
It is assumed that the time derivative of the rack force F is angle depicted in Fig. 4 and a fixed step solver with 1ms
a Lipschitz function, i.e. step size were used. The applied steering angle consists of

dF 3 parts: For the first 11 seconds, the signal is captured by
dt L3 ,
(22) a real world experiment. The steering controller tracks a
constant reference signal in the second phase which ends at
with an unknown Lipschitz constant L3 . In contrast to the 14 seconds. The third phase immediately returns the desired
previous designed constant gain observers, the Lipschitz steering wheel to the zero position and starts with a zig-
constant L3 is difficult to estimate. Therefore, an adaptive zag steering manoeuvre of increasing frequency until the
gain observer given by simulation ends. In order to demonstrate the impact of the
( unknown force F computed by equation (25), the parameter
d5 sign(|e3 | ) for 5 > k was changed during the simulation experiment. For the
= (23a)
dt for 5 first 11 seconds it is kept constant before being gradually
6 = 5 (23b) increased. This behaviour becomes evident in Fig. 5 (during
the time interval from 11 to 14 seconds). The absolute values
is implemented [25]. Here , , , and denote positive of the depicted torques have to be increased in order to keep
constants. The gains 5 and 6 vary with time such that the the steering angle at a constant value. In Fig. 6 the estimation
error signal e3 converges into a narrow domain specified by errors with respect to x2 and Td are plotted. Fig. 7 shows the
. As long as e3 belongs to this domain, the gains are reduced evolution of the rack force estimate as well as the behaviour
until either e3 leaves the domain or the observer gain 5 of the adaptive gain 5 .
reaches its lower limit given by . The adaptation parameter
defines the rate of change of the observer parameters. The TABLE I: Parameters of the EPS testbed
trajectories of system (21) therefore converge to |e3 |
and remain there. Assuming that is selected sufficiently Description Symbol Value Unit
small, i.e 0, the rack force F may be estimated by inertia steering wheel and steer- Is 0.02329 kg m2
ing column
It moment of inertia of intermedi- kg m2
F = w3 . (24) Ic 0.008
rt ate shaft
moment of inertia of motor shaft Im 0.0004 kg m2
IV. NUMERICAL SIMULATION mass of the steering rack m 4.7 kg
The system given in equations (3), (4) and (5) is im- damping coefficient: steering ds 0.26645 N m s/rad
plemented in Matlab/Simulink. In order to generate the un- damping coefficient: intermedi- dm 0.0028 N m s/rad
known rack force, the setup depicted in Fig. 3 is considered ate shaft and motor
and the impact of the tyres is modelled by a spring and spring constant of the torque ks 142.58 N m/rad
damper setup producing a force according to pinion radius rt 0.0115 m
gear ratio: motor - intermediate rm 18 -
F = d rt t + k rt t , (25) shaft
damping coefficient: tyre model d 5000 N s/m
where d and k denote the damping and spring coefficients spring constant: tyre model k 54000 N/m
respectively. The system parameters used are listed in Table

spring force sensor motor / gear box motor
steering column steering rack
spring / damper

steering wheel

motor driver
motor driver
motor driver

Fig. 8: Experimental EPS testbed.

steering angle in degree



x2 x
0 0 5 10 15 20 25 30

Td Td
100 0.1
200 0.2
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
time in seconds
time in seconds
Fig. 4: Steering angle used for numerical simulation.
Fig. 6: Estimation error signals during simulation.
assisting torque steering torque estimted force rack force
force in Newton

2 2,000
torque in Nm

0 2,000
0 5 10 15 20 25 30

0 5 10 15 20 25 30 50
time in seconds 0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
Fig. 5: Steering torque Td and assisting torque Tm applied time in seconds
by the electric motor. Fig. 7: Evolution of the rack force F , its estimated value F
(labeled as estimated force) and the behavior of the adaptive
Real world experiments were conducted using the test-
bench depicted in Fig. 8. It consists of an EPS system the experiments, an EPS control strategy including an active
formerly installed on a Mini Cooper. In addition to the pre- return functionality was activated. Hence, the driver was
installed sensors (e.g a steering column torque sensor), force assisted during steering. The setting of the constant observer
sensors in the steering rack, a steering rack position sensor, parameters 1 , 2 , 3 and 4 as explained in section IV was
an advanced steering angle and steering angular velocity also used for the experiments. The adaptation gains were
sensor are installed. A dSpace Microautobox serves as the selected as = 680 and = 2. The remaining gains are
control unit. It communicates with the motor control unit via selected as in the simulations. Fig. 9 shows the steering
a CAN bus. The motor current, the motor position and the angle applied at the EPS testbench during the experiment.
motor angular velocity are measured by the motor control The estimated values are plotted in Fig. 10.
unit. A sensor to measure the steering torque Td is not
installed. However, in order to validate the estimated values VI. CONCLUSION
of the observer designed in section IV, Td was computed EPS systems are known to reduce energy consumption in
using equation (1a) and equation (5). The experimental automobiles and also provide a basis for automotive applica-
results are obtained using a sampling period of 1ms. During tions such as active steering and lane keeping assistance. The

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