Design of physical systems and associated control systems are coupled tasks; design methods that manage this interaction explicitly can produce system-optimal designs, whereas conventional sequential processes may not. Here we explore a new technique for combined physical system and control design (co-design) based on a simultaneous dynamic optimization approach known as direct transcription, which transforms infinite-dimensional control design problems into finite dimensional nonlinear programming problems. While direct transcription problem dimension is often large, sparse problem structures and fine-grained parallelism (among other advantageous properties) can be exploited to yield computationally efficient implementations. Extension of direct transcription to co-design gives rise to a new problem structures and new challenges. Here we illustrate direct transcription for co-design using a new automotive active suspension design example developed specifically for testing co-design methods. This example builds on prior active suspension problems by incorporating a more realistic physical design component that includes independent design variables and a broad set of physical design constraints, while maintaining linearity of the associated differential equations.

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