This paper introduces the swirling pendulum, a two-link, two degree-of-freedom mechanism which is under-actuated and has an unusual non-planar coupling with axis of rotation of the two links being perpendicular to each other. The swirling pendulum mechanism, while being simple to mathematically represent and easy to physically construct, exhibits several properties like loss of inertial coupling, loss of relative degree, multiple stable and unstable equilibrium points. These properties are unique as well as interesting from dynamics and controls point of view which make the swirling pendulum an excellent test-bed for testing various ideas in control and demonstrating several notions associated with systems and control theory. In this paper, we discuss the modeling of the swirling pendulum mechanism based on Lagrange’s equation along with an analysis related to equilibrium points and their stability. We also present simulation results for regulatory as well as tracking control tasks through simulations on a non-linear model using control methods like LQR, lead compensator and system inversion-based control to demonstrate the utility of the proposed mechanism in the area of systems, control and dynamics. Furthermore, we also discuss experimental results for controls applied on a real-time hardware setup.

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