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Experimental techniques for testing dynamically substructured systems are currently receiving attention in a wide range of structural, aerospace and automotive engineering environments. Dynamic substructuring enables full-size, critical components to be physically tested within a laboratory (as physical substructures), while the remaining parts are simulated in real-time (as numerical substructures). High quality control is required to achieve synchronization of variables at the substructuring interfaces and to compensate for additional actuator system(s) dynamics, nonlinearities, uncertainties and time-varying parameters within the physical substructures. This paper presents the substructuring approach and associated controller designs for performance testing of an aseismic, base-isolation system, which is comprised of roller-pendulum isolators and controllable, nonlinear magnetorheological dampers. Roller-pendulum isolators are typically mounted between the protected structure and its foundation and have a fundamental period of oscillation far-removed from the predominant periods of any earthquake. Such semi-active damper systems can ensure safety and performance requirements, whereas the implementation of purely active systems can be problematic in this respect. A linear inverse dynamics compensation and an adaptive controller are tailored for the resulting nonlinear synchronization problem. Implementation results favourably compare the effectiveness of the adaptive substructuring method against a conventional shaking-table technique. A 1.32% error resulted compared with the shaking-table response. Ultimately, the accuracy of the substructuring method compared with the response of the shaking-table is dependent upon the fidelity of the numerical substructure.
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