Abstract

The field of mechanical systems is viewed within and as a subset of general mechanical and electromechanical systems design. Thus, it should address issues of modeling, analysis, measurement and control of complex mechanical systems. Mechanical engineers in particular are comfortable with design theories only if they can validate them experimentally. Furthermore, any newly suggested methodologies must seek to close some technological deficiency gap between what engineers currently do, and what they would like to do, otherwise engineers would not be inclined to buy into the new methodologies. This calls for a metric to measure such a gap. Although control theory is a very mature field, only a relatively small subset of this theory has been found most useful by design engineers. On the other hand it is often the case that some methodologies are discovered by design engineers and in general use before a complete scientific justification for all of its aspects are delineated. While most of the available theory is linear, almost all mechanical systems are nonlinear.

In this paper, we examine the future impact of modeling as well as information technology on the design and control of mechanical systems. It is argued that developments in computer technology and in modeling will have more influence on the future of mechanical systems than corresponding developments in control theory. However, domain specific control theories will emerge, and should prove more significant than control theories of “everything.” The future lies in the smart integration of modeling, computer technology, engineering design and targeted control theory.

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