Research to help improve general movement and reliability in machine activity
October 18, 2005 -- The National Science Foundation (NSF)
recently granted Professor J. Michael McCarthy $299,965 to support his ongoing
research project, focusing on the solution of
ultra-high degree polynomial systems found in the synthesis of configuration
manifolds for serial chains, which will ultimately help improve the general
movement, mobility, and reliability in the design of new machine systems.
This three-year grant will
assist McCarthy, professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering,
polynomial systems his research team is analyzing and working to solve,
directly impacting the ability to devise products with controlled
“For example, there is
increasing demand for specialized movement in automotive applications, ranging
from suspensions to doors, and perhaps even cup holders, where the device is to
move in three dimensional space, rotate in various directions, and execute all this
in a prescribed, reliable way,” McCarthy explained.
He said his group is working
with polynomial equations of extremely high degrees, and that they have the
unique opportunity to use the Supercomputer
Center located at UC
Irvine’s sister school, UC San Diego, to solve many of their more difficult
McCarthy, who has been
conducting research in this area since joining UC Irvine in 1986, said they are
working to create an efficient system for specifying and computing these
configurations, which will make a fundamental contribution to the development
of future computer-aided design systems.
He said their goal is to assist designers in determining the device that
provides a desired movement and force transmission capability at the beginning of
“It is relatively easy to
envision a process where the designer begins by specifying the task for the
device, generates a range of options, and evaluates their capability before
deciding to shape parts and create the assemblies. However, in practice this is
easier said than done,” McCarthy said.
A result of this research is the
integrated software program, Synthetica, which is especially made for the
computer-aided-design of spatial linkages and robotic systems. Synthetica was part of research project
completed by McCarthy’s previous doctoral candidates, HaiJun Su, Ph.D., Curtis
Collins, Ph.D., and Alba Perez, Ph.D.
The program was described in a
paper submitted at the 2002 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
Design Engineering Technical Conference (DETC), and won the Mechanical
Dynamics Inc. (MDI) - now part of MSC Software - best paper on software.
“By determining of all the roots
of these high-degree polynomial systems we obtain thousands of design options
for complex design tasks,” McCarthy said.
He explained that the results of
these rapid computations will provide powerful interactive design tools,
allowing inventors and engineers to vary task requirements and instantly
observe changes in design solutions.
Future computer-aided design systems are expected to create mechanical
movement as easy as they generate spatial shapes now.
McCarthy’s research team regularly supports local companies in the design of articulated movement, ranging from shape changing wings, down-hole grippers, brake pedal systems, sofa beds, and toy walkers.