Model Predictive Control (MPC) is a control scheme that can accommodate both process constraints and nonlinear process models. The repeated solution of a dynamic optimization problem provides an update of the control variables based on the current state, and therefore provides feedback. One of the ma jor drawbacks of MPC lies in the expensive computations required to update the control policy, which often results in a low sampling frequency for the control loop. This limitation of the sampling frequency can be dramatic for fast systems and for systems exhibiting a strong dispersion between the predicted and the real state such as unstable systems. In the MPC framework, two main methods have been proposed to tackle these difficulties: (i) The use of a pre-stabilizing feedback operating in combination with the MPC scheme, and (ii) the use of robust MPC.
The drawback of the former approach is that there exists no systematic way of designing such a feedback, nor is there any systematic way of analyzing the interaction between the MPC controller and this additional feedback. This work proposes to use the NE theory to design this additional feedback, and it provides a systematic way of analyzing the resulting control scheme. The approach is illustrated via the control of a simulated unstable continuous stirred-tank reactor and is applied successfully to two laboratory-scale set-ups, an inverted pendulum and a helicopter model called Toycopter. The stabilizing potential of NE control to handle fast and unstable systems is well illustrated.
In the case of a strong dispersion between the state tra jectories predicted by the model and the real process, robust MPC becomes infeasible. This problem can be addressed using robust MPC based on multiple input profiles, where the inherent feedback provided by MPC is explicitly taken into account, thereby increasing the size of the set of feasible inputs. The drawback of this scheme is its very high computational complexity. This work proposes to use the NE theory in the robust MPC framework as an efficient way of dealing with the feasibility issue, while limiting the computational complexity of the approach. The approach is illustrated via the control of a simulated unstable continuous stirred-tank reactor, and of an inverted pendulum.