Contact force control in multibody pantograph/catenary systems

In this paper, a new continuum-based pantograph/catenary model based on the absolute nodal coordinate formulation (ANCF) is proposed and used to develop an effective method to control the contact force which arises from the pantograph/catenary interaction. In the proposed new model, only one ANCF gradient vector is used in the formulation of the pantograph/catenary contact conditions, thereby allowing for using the proposed approach for both fully parameterized and gradient deficient ANCF finite elements. The proposed contact formulation can also be considered as a more general sliding joint formulation that allows for the use of the more efficient gradient deficient ANCF finite elements in modeling very flexible cables. A three- dimensional multibody system (MBS) model of a pantograph mounted on a train is developed using a nonlinear augmented MBS formulation. In order to take into account the catenary large deformation, ANCF finite elements are used. The contact between the pantograph and the catenary system is ensured using a sliding joint constraint whereas the contact between the rail vehicle wheels and the train track is modelled using an elastic contact formulation. In addition to the use of the new MBS approach to model the pantograph/catenary interaction, the contact force between the pantograph and the catenary is computed using a simpler lumped parameter model which describes the pan-head and the plunger subsystem dynamics. In order to reduce the standard deviation of the contact force without affecting its mean value, a control actuator is used between the pan-head and the plunger. To this end, three types of control laws for the control action are designed to improve the contact quality both in the transient phase and in the steady state phase of the pantograph/catenary interaction. The first control law proposed features a feedback structure whereas the second and the third control strategies employ a feedback plus feed-forward architecture. In order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method, the results of a set of numerical simulations with and without the controllers are presented.