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........ published in NEWSLETTER # 67

By Professor J. Angeles, McGill University, Montreal (Canada)

The chapters of this book summarized the invited lectures delivered during the NATO Advanced Study Institute (ASI) on "Computational Methods in Mechanisms", that took place in the Sts. Constantin and Elena Resort, near Varna, on the Bulgarian Coast of the Black Sea, on June 19-28, 1997. The purpose of the ASI was to bring together leading researchers in the area of mechanical systems at large, with special emphasis on the computational issues around their analysis, synthesis, and optimization, during two weeks of lectures and discussion. A total of 90 participants from 23 countries played an active role during the lectures and sessions of contributed papers.

The subject of the book (NATO ASI SERIES F161) is mechanical systems, i.e., systems composed of rigid and flexible bodies, coupled by mechanical means so as to constrain their various bodies in a goal-oriented manner, usually driven under computer control. Applications of the discipline cover a rich spectrum, from transportation systems to biomedical devices. Under normal operating conditions, the constitutive bodies of a mechanical system can be considered to be rigid, the rigidity property then easing dramatically the analysis of the kinematics and dynamics of the system at hand. Examples of these systems are the suspension of a terrestrial vehicle negotiating a curve at speeds within the allowed or recommended limits and the links of multiaxis industrial robots performing conventional pick-and-place operations. Many an application, however, calls for an analysis that considers the flexibility of the various links, as is the case in light devices like the solar panels of a satellite undergoing a reorientation maneuver, or the body of a high-speed train experiencing a collision. The correct operation of systems like those mentioned above, which are set to work under increasingly demanding conditions, calls for increasingly detailed and accurate analyses both at the design stage and when driven under computer control. Hence the need to review the state-of-the-art in areas pertaining to the mechanics of multibody systems.

The book is intended to cover a broad scope of computational issues in multibody-system mechanics, from the kinematics fundamentals to applications such as motion-simulator design and crash worthiness evaluation by simulation means. The book is divided into three parts: Kinematics of Mechanical Systems; Dynamics and Control of Rigid-Body Systems; and Dynamics of Flexible Multibody Systems.

The reader will find review chapters on topics such as optimization of multi-degree-of-freedom mechanisms, with classical and modern techniques, and on the dynamics of mechanical systems with flexible bodies. Besides, chapters on elimination techniques based on computer-algebra software in the realm of computational kinematics, as well as on design techniques, are included. Advanced software for design and simulation is introduced in some chapters.
Reference books: E268, F9, F27, F69, F108, F161

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