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Laboratory of Automatic Control Systems UTFPR Brazil

Alessandro do Nascimento Vargas (Alessandro N Vargas)

Laboratory of Automatic Control Systems



Labcontrol stands for a laboratory for research in control systems and automation at UTFPR Brazil. Labcontrol hosts advanced equipments to check new control strategies. In fact the main aim of the Lab is to provide conditions for which most of the control rules can be checked in practice. This is interesting because researchers can verify the effectiveness of their control methodologies in practice. Usually the control strategy is implemented in a PC running Matlab or other programming device (microprocessor, Arduino, Quanser board, Hardware-in-the-loop, etc.) and this device is connected physically to a plant, i.e., the main device to be controlled. A power amplifier is also used in many of these experiments to make the interface between the acquisition card and plant. Below you can see some of the plants available in our laboratory facilities. All of these plants are functional and can be used at any time by anyone interested in doing research, but its use is always conditioned to the supervision of one of the professors.If you have interest to visit Labcontrol, or if you want to check your control rule in practice, or if you want to start a cooperation with our group,please send a message to the coordinator of Labcontrol, Prof. Alessandro N. Vargas (UTFPR Brazil).



Lab Control stands for Laboratory of Automatic Control Systems. It is located at UTFPR, in the Cornelio Procopio Campus (in the urban area of Londrina, Parana, Brazil).

Fig. 1: Skyline of Cornelio Procopio, Parana.


Fig. 2 - Photo of the outside face of the building that hosts the Laboratory (picture was taken when it was under construction in 2010).


Fig. 3 - Entrance hall and corridor of the Laboratory facilities.

Fig. 4 - The Laboratory occupies four rooms with 40 square meters each.

This picture shows just only one of them.


We are open for new national and international cooperation. If you have interest to cooperate with us, please send us a message. We have established fruitful collaboration with national and international Control systems groups. To support our communication, we use Skype and other new communication technologies. These tools allow us to work with colleagues anywhere in the world, and if you have interest to make part of that network please send us a message.


The researchers that work in the Lab also work in strong cooperation with national and international Control systems groups. The research partners are mostly located in Brazil, Spain, France, and Nigeria.

International partners

Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, China
Basque Center for Applied Mathematics, Bilbao, Spain
Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
LAAS-CNRS, Toulose, France
University of Nigeria, Nigeria
Gheorghe Asachi Technical University, Romania

National partners

Unicamp, Campinas, Brazil
Unesp, Ilha Solteira, Brazil
USP, Sao Carlos, Brazil
Universidade de Brasilia, Brasil

Equipments available in the Lab


The servomechanism is based on the direct current DC Motor Module 2208, made up by DatapoolEletronica Ltda, Brazil, using a National Instruments USB-6008 data acquisition card to perform a physical link with the computer. The computer calls the Matlab software to implement physically the controller. Any kind of control rule, such as linear, non-linear, time-varying, and so forth, can be implemented. The DC motor can be satisfactorily represented by second order linear systems. The two system state variables are the angular velocity of the motor shaft and the electrical current consumed by the motor. The device has sensor for both variables, which signifies that we can implement full-state feedback. To measure the angular velocity, we use the manufacturer-provided tachogenerator that produces voltage proportional to the speed of the shaft; and to measure the electric current, we introduce in series with the motor a simple circuit composed by a shunt resistor connected with a pre-amplifier signal stage. First-order analog filters are used in the circuit to reduce high-frequency noise from the experimental data. The circuitry of the DC motor can be modified to accept failures. These failures can be either deterministic or stochastic. Hence one can check whether that theoretical control rule, derived for systems under failures, works in practice.


Fig. 5 - Servomechanism

DC-DC buck converter

A buck converter is a voltage step down and current step up converter. In our lab we have implemented an analog state-feedback control. In this experiment all of the variables are continuous-time, i.e., there is no PC and/or data acquisition cards involved in the experiments.

Fig. 6 - DC DC Buck converter

Two-coupled tanks

The two-coupled tanks are connected in such a way to generate a nonlinear control system with structural constraints. The equipment is fully controlled by Matlab, and all of the sensors and actuators are driven by signals generated inside Matlab. The left figures shows the block functional diagram and the right one shows a picture of the equipment.

Fig. 7 - Two-coupled tanks

Notice in the diagram that there is a pump that takes water from the reservoir and put it in Tank 2. Another pump in Tank 2 takes the water therein to send it to Tank 1. But Tank 1 has a manual valve that keeps opened, and a flux of water flows from Tank 1 to the reservour. We want to control the level of the Tanks 1 and 2. And the actuators are the pumps connected in the reservour and Tank 2. This configuration is extremely challenging from the Control point of view.

ECP System: Torsional Apparatus

This system represents a broad and important class of practical plants including: rigid bodies, flexibility in drives, and coupled discrete vibrating systems. It easily transforms into second, fourth, and sixth (optional) order plants with collocated or noncollocated sensor / actuator control, see Fig. 7. For more details, check it here:

Fig. 8 - Torsional apparatus

ECP System: Control Moment Gyroscope

ECP's four axis Control Moment Gyroscope is a dynamically rich system that provides superb demonstrations of multi-DOF rigid body control, see Fig. 8. For more details, check it here:

Fig. 9 - Gyroscope

Other laboratorial experiments

The Laboratory has electrical and electronic components, power sources, oscilloscopes, frequency analisers, and other elements that can be used to make interesting experiments. The three pictures below show (1) an autonomous-driven car, (2) a controlled analog Magnetic levitador, (3) an electronic throttle valve for automotive applications, and (4) measurements taken for automotive sensors to identify models that describe the engine motor behaviour.

Fig. 10 - Devices and equipments used for training and experimentation
Fig. 11 - Industrial plant that can be used to control the temperature, pression, and level in the coupled tanks.

Fig. 12 - Industrial plant that can be used to control the temperature and level in two-coupled tanks
Fig. 13 - Solar tracking system. The tracking system converts a photovoltaic panel as a sun-tracker, in order to maximize the power produced by the photovoltaic device. Fuzzy control is used. The electricity produced in the process is used to recharge batteries.

Rapid control prototyping

The laboratory is equipped with a Rapid control hardware-in-the-loop made by Quanser (Canada). The device has two main parts: one that makes the real-time measurements and control, and the other that makes the power amplifier. The idea is simple: the user can develop any control rule inside Simulink, click a simple button, and then that control rule is transferred into the USB board. This USB board drivers the Power device. All the signals from input and output are measured in the Matlab; and all the measurements can be seen online inside Matlab. The board can work at 2 KHz.

Fig. 13 - USB data acquisition device (code USB-02 Quanser Canada). Voltage range from -10V to +10V.

Fig. 14 - Power amplifier used with the USB data acquisition device (code Voltpaq-X1 Quanser Canada). Voltage range from -10V to +10V (load supplied with up to 4A).

Renewable energy: photovoltaic panel

Labcontrol works together with the Laboratory of Power Electronics (LEQPER) to develop new converters, efficient power electronics, and control for renewable energy. In particular, researchers of both labs use an array of photovoltaic panels able to produce up to 5 KW, see Fig. 15.

Fig. 15 - Array of photovoltaic panels: it can produce up to 5 KW.


  • This project consists of the design, production and validation of the physical vehicle and the flight controller (hardware and software).
  • A quadcopter is chosen given the simplicity and flexibility in order to implement newer control strategies.
  • Currently, the project is at its third iteration, where the flight controller has been validated on altitudes up to 1000m and lateral winds of 8m/s, with a stable control of the attitude. The payload (except from the systems needed for basic operation) are an FPV system (camera plus transmitter) and high definition compact camera.
  • Labcontrol hosts this project under the supervision of Xavier Descarrega, Engineer, UPC Barcelona.
  • Videos of the quadcopter working can be found here:

Fig. 16 - Quadcopter in Labcontrol

Fig. 17 - Core of the quadcopter: main electronic board responsible to control the flight of the quadcopter

Fig. 18 - Student making some experiments with a quadcopter

Opportunity for students

The Laboratory offers opportunity for undergraduate students to be trained in research themes that are in the frontier of knowledge. If you want to become part of this team please send us a message.
  • Opportunity for undergraduate students.
  • Opportunity for graduate students in a Master degree program.
  • Opportunity for graduate students in a Doctorate-PhD program.
  • Opportunity for Post-doctorate traineeship with scholarship provided by the Brazilian Government.
  • Opportunity for internships from worldwide international student exchange.

Fig. 15 - Undergratuate students inside the Laboratory facilities

Fig. 16 - Undergratuate student presenting her results in a conference

More details of the Lab in the webpage below:

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