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IEEE International Conference on Power Electronics, Control and Embedded Systems (ICPCES) Nov 29 - Dec 1 2010, MNNIT, Allahabad,India

Real Time Control of Electrical Machine Drives:

A Review
P.M.Menghal, A. Jaya Laxmi, Member, IEEE

Abstract--Over the last two decades, commercially available Research on high level modeling, new converter-inverter
computer has become both increasingly powerful and topologies and control strategies are the major research areas
increasingly affordable. This, in turn, has led to the emergence of in electrical drives. A system consisting of a loaded motor
highly sophisticated simulation software applications that not driven by a power electronics converter is a complex and
only enable high-fidelity simulation of dynamic systems and nonlinear system. Thus, performing system-level testing
related controls, but also automatic code generation for
which is one of the major steps in developing a complex
implementation in industrial controllers. Today, electric drives,
power electronic systems and their controls are getting more and product in a comprehensive and cost effective way requires
more complex, and their use is widely increasing in all sectors: real-time simulations. One of the most demanding aspects for
power systems, traction, hybrid vehicles, industrial and home real-time control systems is to connect the inputs and outputs
electronics, automotive, naval and aerospace systems, etc. of the tested control system to a real-time simulation of the
Advances in Microprocessors, Microcomputers, Microcontrollers target process. As this implies that all control loops are closed
such as DSP, FPGA, dSPACE etc. and Power Semiconductor via the simulator, this method is often called Hardware-in-the-
devices have made tremendous impact on electric motor drives. Loop (HIL) simulation. By using the HIL simulations, we can
Due to advancement of the software tools like evaluate different subsystem interaction. In HIL simulation, a
MATLAB/SIMULINK with its Real Time Workshop (RTW) and
device under test is run fully connected to a real-time
Real Time Windows Target (RTWT), real time simulators are
used extensively in many engineering fields, such as industry simulated dynamic equivalent of an apparatus. A particular
,education and research institutions. As consequences, inclusion merit of this approach is that it even permits a gradual change-
of the real time simulation applications in modern engineering over from simulation to actual application, as it allows to start
provides great help for the researcher and academicians. A case from a pure simulation and to gradually integrate real
is made to present overview of the Real Time Simulations of electrical and mechanical subsystems into the loop as they
Electrical Machine Drives possibility of including these become available. An HIL simulation can help reduce
techniques in modern engineering and practices. This paper will development cycles, cut overall cost, prevent costly failures
also discuss various real time simulation techniques such as Real and test a subsystem exhaustively before integrating it into the
Time Laboratory (RT Lab). Rapid Control Prototyping (RCP)
system. One of the reasons for real time simulations with HIL
and Hardware in the Loop (HIL) can be used in a modern
engineering. is when a particular device is very difficult to model then it is
convenient to use this device directly in the simulations
Index Terms --Real Time Simulation, Real Time Lab (RT Lab), instead of modeling it. Digital real time simulations are
Hardware in the Loop (HIL), Real Time Workshop. required by Hardware in the Loop applications and their use
allows rapid prototyping and minimizes the design process
I. INTRODUCTION cost. The real time system structure will allow the
implementation of advanced motor drives control algorithms
N OWDAYS as a consequence of the important progress in
the power semiconductor technologies, real time control of the
and the evaluation of their performance in real time [4].
Algorithms implemented in FPGA circuit are even more
electrical machines has gained more popularity in many complicated to test because of number of internal signals.
engineering fields. Due to the increasing complexity and costs These signals are only accessible through test modules
of projects, and the growing pressure to reduce the time-to- implemented inside the circuit. dSPACE real time platform
market, testing and validation of complex systems has become allows simulation and verification environments to be created
more and more important in the design process. With the great from SIMULINK models. In this way, the same model can be
advancement in processor and software technology and their used through the whole development cycle of the control
decrease in cost, it has become possible to use gradual and algorithm. dSPACE also allows simulations to be performed
complete approach in system design, integration and testing. in several phases of the design, from a single module to
This approach, which has been traditionally reserved to very system level. It is also possible to use SIMULINK in co-
large and complex projects (power systems, aeronautics, etc.) simulations with ModelSim to simulate VHDL model together
is the Real Time (RT) simulation. with the SIMULINK model. This paper presents overview of
the various real time simulation technologies and their
P .M. Menghal is with the Faculty of Electronics, Militray College of engineering applications [6], [20].
Electronics and Mechanical Engineering, Secunderabad-500015 and Research
Scholar, EEE Dept., Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Anantapur-
515002, Andhra Pradesh, India (e-mail:
A.Jaya Laxmi is with the Dept of EEE, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological
University, College of Engineering, Kukatpally, Hyderabad-500085, Andhra
Pradesh, India (e-mail:

978-1-4244-8542-0/10/$26.00 ©2010 IEEE

IEEE International Conference on Power Electronics, Control and Embedded Systems (ICPCES) Nov 29 - Dec 1 2010, MNNIT, Allahabad,India

II. BASIC CONCEPT OF THE REAL TIME Power PC or a Pentium family processor. The main features of
CONTROL & SIMULATION the real time software, as distinct from other software are that
the control algorithms must be run at their scheduled sample
The literature about real-time systems presents digital intervals and their exists associate software components,
control or computer controlled systems as one of its most which interact with sensors and actuators. Generally, two
important practical application field in electrical machines and methods of the real time control algorithms implementations
drives. It seems to be more natural that these applications are used:
should be treated as part of digital control. In spite of that,  Manual writing of the code.
control system literature rarely includes extensively the real-  Automatic generation of the controller using a code
time control of electrical machines and it does not normally translator that produces a real time code directly from the
pay attention to real-time aspects beyond algorithms and controller model [4].
choice of sampling times. The implementation of digital The main idea using real time control is to smoothen
control systems and real-time systems of electrical machines transition from the non- real analysis and simulation to the real
belong together and they should be connected more or less time experiments and implementation. The various digital real
later in the electrical machines due to advancement of the time control and simulation applications can be divided into
power semiconductor device and various digital controller. In the categories as given in Table-I[3].
general, real-time issues are gradually becoming “transparent”
to the control of the various electrical machines. This TABLE I
transparency has been considerably increased in the last few
years with the advent of software tools like
MATLAB/SIMULINK with its RTW (Real Time Workshop)
and RTWT (Real Time Windows Target). They certainly do
the implementation of real-time experiments easier and save
much time, but on the other hand they put more distance
regarding to the real life problems, which can emerge during
the real-time implementation of control system of electrical
machines. It is possible to find in the literature several
definitions for real-time systems. A definition that does not
contradict the definition given in the IEEE POSIX Standard
(Portable Operation System Interface for Computer
“A real-time system is one in which the correctness of a result
not only depends on the logical correctness of the calculation
but also upon the time at which the result is made available”
This definition emphasizes the notion that time is one of the
A typical real time control and simulation is shown in
most important entities of the system and there are timing
Fig.1.The real time simulation requires selection of control
constraints associated with systems tasks. Such tasks normally
strategies, structures and parameter values. The integrated
control or react to events that take place in the outside world,
real-time control and simulation environment is solution
which are happening in “real time”. Thus, a real-time task
enabling the designer to perform the simulations and real time
must be able to keep up with external events, with which it is
experiments in structured and simple manner. The system
concerned. It should be noted here that real-time computing is
shown in Fig.1 consists of three parts: a Real Time Kernel
not equivalent to fast computing. Fast computing aims at
(RTK), “on-line” operating analysis, simulation and
getting the results as quickly as possible, while real-time
visualizations tools, and “off-line” design support libraries.
computing aims at getting the results at a prescribed point of
The real-time kernel performs the controller algorithms and
time within defined time tolerances. Nowadays it is very
data logging. Data collected in the buffer of the RTK can be
difficult to choose a software/hardware configuration for real-
analyzed in “on line” mode using the appropriate software. If
time experiments because there are many manufacturers that
it is necessary the control algorithms can be redesigned in off -
offer a variety of well designed systems. Thus, it is necessary
line mode using non real facilities then verified by simulation
to be careful at the moment to define the specifications for
method and finally downloaded to real time controller. “On-
such systems. Today it is very common to use two computers
line” simulation provides the best conditions for the
in a host/ target configuration to implement real-time control
parameters tuning [3], [4], [5]. The basic real time control
systems. The host is a computer without real-time
system for electrical machine drives is shown in Fig. 2.A
requirements, in which it develops environment, data
power electronics system, similar to any control system, is
visualization and control panel in the form of a Graphic User
usually made of a controller and a plant as shown in Fig.2;
Interface (GUI) reside. The real-time system run on the target,
latter this becomes power circuit (power source, power
which can be a second computer or an embedded systems
electronics converter and load). These are usually connected
based on a board with a DSP (Digital Signal Processor), a
in closed loop by means of sensors sending feedback signals
978-1-4244-8542-0/10/$26.00 ©2010 IEEE
IEEE International Conference on Power Electronics, Control and Embedded Systems (ICPCES) Nov 29 - Dec 1 2010, MNNIT, Allahabad,India

from the plant to the controller and an interface (actuators) to
level the signals sent from the controller to the power switches The conventional control have been replaced by
(Firing pulse unit, gate drives, etc.,)[2]. the new dynamic microprocessor based control techniques
The advancement of microprocessor technology has followed
a rapid pace since the advent of the first 4-bit microprocessor
in 1971. From simple 4-bit architecture with limited
capabilities, microprocessors have evolved towards complex
64-bit architecture in 1992 with tremendous processing power.
The evolution of microcontrollers has followed that of
microprocessor, and consists of three main families: MCS-52,
MCS-96 and i960. These families are based on 8-bit CISC,
16-bit CISC, 32-bit and 64-bit RISC microprocessor
architecture respectively. The digital technology is developed
in a order as: General-purpose microprocessors,
microcontrollers, Advanced processors (DSP’s, RISC
processors, parallel processors), ASIC’s and SoC. The recent
development of control techniques for several kinds of
electrical machines require better and modern machine
drivers, since digital control techniques usually require
Fig.1 Typical Real Time Control System microprocessor computation for their implementation. A
microprocessor based electrical machines control using PWM
III. REAL TIME SIMULATION TECHNIQUES modulation was implemented by using PMACP16-200
microprocessor for induction motor and results were
Now a days there is a progress in electrical machines and supported by the experiment setup [5]. As the fast changes in
drives because of advancement in power semiconductor the technology of microprocessor, a newly developed
devices. With advancement in the digital controller such as Motorola MC68HC11E-9 microcontroller based fully digital
Microprocessor/Microcontroller, Digital Signal Processors control system has been implemented to control the induction
(DSP), Field Programmable Gate Array(FPGA), dSPACE motor. The high-performance microprocessor and PC based
and other Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques such as real time control schemes for electrical machines have been
Fuzzy, Neural can now satisfactory implemented for real time presented in [6], [8] and the controller performance was check
applications [5], [8]. Traditionally, validation of the system and verified experimentally [5], [8].
was done by non-real time simulation of the concept at early
stage in the design, and by testing the system once the design (ii) Digital Signal Processors (DSP)/ Field Programmable
is implemented; but this method has two major drawbacks: Gate Array (FPGA)
first, the leap in the design process, from off-line simulation to
real prototype is so wide that it is prone to many troubles and Digital Signal Processors(DSPs) began to appear roughly
problems related to the integration at once of different around 1979 and today advanced (Digital Signal Processors),
modules; second, the off-line, non-real-time, simulation may RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) processors, and
become tediously long for any moderately complex system, parallel processors provide ever more high computing
especially for Electrical Machine drives with switching power capabilities for most demanding applications. With the great
electronics [3]. Various techniques that can be used for real advances in the microelectronics and very large scale
time control and simulation of electrical machines and drives integration (VLSI) and Very High Speed Integrated Circuit
are: Description Language (VHDL) technology, high-performance
DSP’s can be effectively used to realize real time simulation
of electrical machines. The basic function of real time control
for electric drive is shown in Fig. 3[8]. The real time
simulation of electric machine drives has been developed and
successfully integrated in the first course of power electronics
and electric drives [9], [16].
New emerging technologies in semiconductor industry
offered the means to create high-performance digital
components allowing implementation of more complex
control applications. Embedded Systems (ESs) are computers
incorporated in devices in order to perform application
specific functions. Application Specific Integrated Circuit
(ASIC) is a generic term which is used to designate any
Fig.2 Block diagram Real Time control for Electrical Machine integrated circuit designed and built specifically for a
particular application. ESs can contain a variety of computing
(i) Microprocessor/Microcontroller: devices, such as microcontrollers, Application Specific
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IEEE International Conference on Power Electronics, Control and Embedded Systems (ICPCES) Nov 29 - Dec 1 2010, MNNIT, Allahabad,India

Integrated Circuits (ASICs), Application Specific Integrated dSPACE hardware platform is based on digital signal
Processors (ASIPs), and Digital Signal Processors (DSPs). processors (DSP). This platform has two characteristics which
Recently, the System-on-Chip (SoC)(Eshraghian,2006;Nurmi, discern it from other similar products. First one is that this
2007) capabilities have provided the opportunity to have a microprocessor board is mounted in the PCI slot of a personal
more performance digital control solution [12]. A renewed computer, and the second one is that system uses
interest is devoted to Field Programmable Gate Arrays MATLAB/SIMULINK as a software development
(FPGAs) for full integration of all control functions. New tool.Hardware platform consist of two DSPs, which share
FPGA technology (Rodriguez-Andina et al., 2007) containing different application-communication tasks in order to achieve
both reconfigurable logic blocks and embedded cores becomes real-time application running. For the software developing,
quite mature for high-speed power control applications. Hard dSPACE system uses MATLAB/SIMULINK. Almost all
Ware (HW) and Soft Ware (SW) components interact in order SIMULNK features and tools can be used for creating a user
to perform the given task. Such systems need a co-design algorithm[17].dSPACE software package includes additional
expertise to build a flexible embedded controller that can SIMULINK toolboxes which define different hardware
execute Real Time closed-loop control. characteristics like timers, counters, PWM generators,
encoders, etc.,[19]. When the user algorithm is created in
SIMULINK, target DSP code must be generated. MATLAB’s
Real time workshop and the specific builder, installed with
dSPACE software package, provide building and downloading
of user algorithms are possible directly from SIMULINK.
When the user algorithm is downloaded real time debugging,
parameters adjustment and signals observing are realized with
the Control Desk software package. dSPACE real time
platform allows simulation and verification environments to
be created from SIMULINK models [20].

Fig.3 Real Time Simulation Electric Drives Laboratory

The power of these FPGAs has been made readily available to

embedded system designers and SW programmers through the
use of SW to HW tools. Field-Programmable Gate Arrays
(FPGA’s) are a special class of ASIC’s which differ from
mask programmed gate arrays in that their programming is
done by end-users at their site with no IC masking steps.
During the last ten years embedded systems have moved
Fig.4 Block Diagram of a dSPACEDS1104 R&D Controller Board
towards System-on-Chip (SoC) and high-level multi chip
modules solutions. A SoC design is defined as a complex IC (iv) Artificial Intelligence Control
that integrates the major functional elements of a complete
end-product into a single chip or chipset [17], [20]. Today In recent years, there is an increased interest in combining
System-on-Chip (SoC) devices target high performance artificial intelligent control with real time control techniques
applications in which fast time to market is of prime In this paper, review on the different techniques based on the
importance. The evolution of VLSI and microprocessor fuzzy logic and neural network in vector of induction motor
technologies is expected to continue with an accelerating pace drive are presented in [16], [21]. dSPACE implementation of
during the next decade. The FPGA based real time simulation Fuzzy logic based real time vector control was presented [18].
of electrical machines has been implemented [12], [16]. The efficiency of the controller has been verified through
hardware and MATLAB implementation [18].The real time
(iii) dSPACE Controller implementation of IRFOC using dSPACE controller is
presented. The performance of complete vector control of the
Testing and verification of motor control algorithms is very single phase induction motor and PI controllers has been
demanding and time consuming. Test systems use usually investigated and verified experimentally [19].
electrical connections to signal lines or pins to get information
from tested device. Algorithms implemented in FPGA circuit IV. COMPARISON OF VARIOUS REAL TIME
are even more complicated to test because of the amount of SIMULATION TECHNIQUES
internal signals. These signals are only accessible through test
modules implemented inside the circuit [20].

978-1-4244-8542-0/10/$26.00 ©2010 IEEE

IEEE International Conference on Power Electronics, Control and Embedded Systems (ICPCES) Nov 29 - Dec 1 2010, MNNIT, Allahabad,India

In the past motor controller was typically developed and simulated in real-time and the “plant,” or system under
used by using a real motor drive in early design process. control, is real The applications of RT-LAB real-time system
However today, it is more common to test controller using for rapid control prototyping are numerous; it is found in the
simulated motor model in a real time environment. Testing development of a biped locomotor applicable to medical and
and verification of motor control algorithms is very welfare fields [9]; in autonomous control to maneuver a ship
demanding and time consuming. The various controllers and along desired paths at different velocities [2], where RT-Lab is
their performance for real time control of electrical machines used for rapid prototyping of the ship real-time feedback
are listed in Table.-I. However it is not optimised for the controller; in real-time control of a multilevel converter using
specific algorithms implemented in software as they result in the mathematical theory of resultants]; and in several research
poor performance. FPGA provides the means for achieving and teaching labs for the control of electric motors; a typical
hardware performance and software versatility. The main setup using the DriveLab experimental set has been
advantages of FPGA are the reconfigurability of the hardware implemented [22], [24].
as compared to DSP’s in which the hardware resources are
fixed and cannot be reconfigured. The bit length of digital (ii) Hardware –in –the –Loop testing (HIL)
word is not limited in FPGA wherein DSP and other Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) is the simulation of either the
processors it is limited. Algorithms implemented in FPGA controller (Rapid Control Prototyping) or the plant(Plant-in-
circuit are even more complicated to test because of number of the-loop, or generally called hardware-in the-loop). At this
internal signals. These signals are only accessible through test stage, a part of the designed system is built and available to be
modules implemented inside the circuit. dSPACE hardware integrated to the other part that is being simulated in real-time.
platform is based on DSP and Microprocessors. dSPACE real This phase may constitute for some projects the only phase
time platform allows simulation and verification environments that is used (i.e. when the project consists of improving an
to be created from SIMULINK model. Artificial Intelligence existing system, or upgrading a new design, or correcting a
techniques such as neural network, fuzzy logic leads to bug in one of its modules). If the hardware (controlled
improved performance when properly tuned. They are easy to equipment) is available, rapid control prototyping and testing
extend and modify and also can be easily made adaptive by is done with the real hardware. But, for complex systems, like
the incorporation of new data or information, as they become a hybrid car power drive, or a complex industrial drive, in
available. most cases, the controller will be ready before the hardware it
controls; so, HIL testing, where the real hardware is replaced
V. APPLICATIONS OF THE REAL TIME by its RT digital model is used to debug and refine the
SIMULATION IN ELECTRICAL MACHINE DRIVES controller. This is done with a key characteristic of this design
processes i.e. code generation. The block diagram based
The various applications of the real time simulation are model is automatically implemented in real-time through fast
discussed [22-26]. Real time applications which can be used and automatic code generation; the long, error prone hand
in modern engineering are: coding is avoided; prototyping and iterative testing is
(i)Rapid Control Prototyping (RCP): therefore greatly accelerated [2]. HILS differs from pure real-
A critical aspect in the deployment of motor drives time simulation by the use of the “real” controller in the loop
lies in the early detection of defects in the design process. In (motor drive controller, electronic control unit for automotive,
the process if a problem is found, the greater is the cost to fix FADEC for aerospace, etc); this controller is connected to the
it. Rapid prototyping of motor controllers is one methodology rest of the system that is simulated by input/outputs devices.
that enables the control engineer to quickly deploy control So unlike RCP, in HILS, it is the plant that is simulated and
algorithms and find eventual problems. This is typically the controller which is real. Hence, aircraft flight simulators
performed using a small real-time simulator called a Rapid can be considered as a form of HIL simulation. HIL permits
Control Prototyping (RCP) system connected in closed-loop repetition and variation of tests on the actual or prototyped
with a physical prototype of the drive to be controlled. hardware without any risk for people or system. Tests can be
Modern RCPs take advantage of a graphical programming performed under realistic and reproducible conditions. They
language (such as SIMULINK) with automatic code can also be programmed and automatically executed [22]. The
generation support. Later in the design process, when this HIL simulation is discussed in detail [22],[26].
code has been converted and fitted into a production controller
(using mass-production low-cost devices), the same engineer (iii)Rapid Batch Simulation (RBS)
can verify it against the same physical motor drive, often a RBS is typically used to accelerate simulation in massive
prototype or a preproduction unit [14]. In RCP applications, batch run tests, such as aircraft parameter identification using
an engineer will use a real-time simulator to quickly aircraft flight data [22],[26].
implement a controller and connect it to the real plant. In cases
where a physical drive is not available, or where only costly (iv)RT Lab Real Time Platform
prototypes are available, an HIL simulated motor drive can be RT-LAB is an integrated real-time software platform
used during the RCP development stage. For example, the that enables model-based design by the use of rapid
simulated motor drive can be tested with borderline conditions prototyping and HIL simulation and testing of control
that would otherwise damage a real motor. Rapid control systems, according to the V-cycle design process. RT-LAB is
prototyping differs from HIL in that the control strategy is a powerful, modular, distributed, real-time platform that lets
978-1-4244-8542-0/10/$26.00 ©2010 IEEE
IEEE International Conference on Power Electronics, Control and Embedded Systems (ICPCES) Nov 29 - Dec 1 2010, MNNIT, Allahabad,India

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