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Dirk Odenthal, Tilman B
unte, J
urgen Ackermann
DLR, German Aerospace Center, Institute of Robotics and System Dynamics,
Oberpfaffenhofen, D-82230 Wessling, Germany
Fax: +49-8153-28 1847 and e-mail: Dirk.Odenthal@dlr.de, Tilman.Buente@dlr.de, Juergen.Ackermann@dlr.de

Keywords: Vehicle dynamics control, rollover avoidance, active steering, robust control, absolute stability.

Steering and braking control is applied to avoid rollover of
road vehicles. The control concept presented is composed
of three feedback loops: Continuous operation steering
control, emergency steering control and emergency braking control. In continuous operation the roll rate and the
roll acceleration are fed back by velocity scheduled gains to
the front wheel steering angle. Thereby, the vehicles roll
damping is robustly improved for a wide range of speed
and height of the center of gravity. The latter may change
for example with a truck from ride to ride. A rollover coefficient is defined that basically depends on the lateral acceleration at the center of gravity of the vehicles sprung
mass. For critical values of this variable the emergency
steering and braking system is activated. The rollover coefficient is also used for nonlinear feedback to the front
wheel steering angle. The control concept is evaluated by
linear sensitivity analysis and by simulations. Additionally, absolute stability of the steering control concept is
verified using Popovs criterion.


There are typical driving situations which can directly or

indirectly induce vehicle rollover. Examples are excessive
speed when entering a curve, severe lane change or obstacle avoidance maneuvers (in particular when the center of
gravity (CG) is high) or disturbance impact like sidewind.
One may distinguish two different categories of situations
from which rollover can arise: In the first case rollover is
caused directly, this is called rollover on a plane surface.
In the other case (tripped rollover) after the vehicle has
already entered a skidding state, rollover may occur if the
wheels hit an obstacle.
Vehicles with an elevated CG are especially threatened
by rollover. Also, rollover accidents very often result from
misinterpretation of the vehicle dynamics by the driver,

in particular when the CG height varies severely according to different payloads. From common sense it is clear
that the ratio of the track width and the CG height is
the most important parameter affecting vehicle rollover
risk. The track width is a fixed parameter whereas the
CG height is either (nearly) fixed (e.g. passenger cars) or
uncertain subject to varying loadings (e.g. trucks). In [1]
an online estimation method was presented which allows
to determine the height of the CG. Hence, we assume the
CG height to be known and constant during operation.
Present vehicle dynamics control systems using individual wheel braking (e.g. Electronic Stability Program, ESP
[2]) or active steering (e.g. Robust Steering Control, [3])
have been primarily established for passenger cars with a
low CG. These concepts can in general help to avoid skidding and thus help to avoid tripped rollover. However,
until now, the primary task of individual wheel braking
and active steering has been the stabilization of the yaw
In [4] a new approach was presented focussing on
rollover avoidance by active steering. There, an actuator
sets a small auxiliary front wheel steering angle in addition to the steering angle commanded by the driver. The
aim was to robustly decrease the rollover risk due to transient roll overshoot of the vehicles body when performing
lane change or obstacle avoidance maneuvers. The control
law consists of proportional feedback of both the roll rate
and the roll acceleration. The gains were fixed according to robustness and performance considerations in parameter space and time domain. The resulting controller
was shown to robustly reduce the maximum roll angle
overshoot after steering input steps for large variations of
the CG height in particular at high velocity. Moreover,
the roll damping was robustly improved. In [5] this controller was modified by gain scheduling against velocity
and CG height to achieve comparably good results also at
low speeds and different heights of CG. With this linear
control concept, however, the vehicle may still roll over in
case of too large steering wheel inputs.
In this paper a control concept is presented where the
linear steering control is extended by nonlinear emergency
steering and braking control. Section 2 describes a linear vehicle model which is used for the subsequent linear



and nonlinear steering control synthesis and analysis. In

section 3 the three control loops which form the rollover
avoidance control concept are explained. The performance
of the resulting system is investigated by means of a nonlinear simulation in section 4. There the controlled vehicle
is compared with the conventional vehicle when entering
a curve at risky speed.


m2 ay,2
m2 g

roll axis

h cos

Vehicle model



The main features of vehicle steering dynamics in a horizontal plane can be described by the single track model
[6]. To take into account the influence of the height of the
CG, this model is extended by the vehicles roll dynamics.
For straight driving at constant speed the following linear
differential equations represent the vehicles lateral, yaw
and roll dynamics:

m v m2 h = (cr lr cf lf ) m v r
(cf + cr ) + cf f

Jz r = (cf lf 2 + cr lr 2 ) r
+ (cr lr cf lf ) + cf lf f

J2,x + m2 h2 + d + (c m2 g h) = m2 h ay,1


where ay,1 is the lateral acceleration of the unsprung mass

ay,1 = v ( + r) .


The system states are the side slip angle of the unsprung

mass, the yaw rate r, the roll angle and the roll rate .
The system input is the front wheel steering angle f .
Numerical values of the parameters of the model, shown
in Tab. 1, are taken from [7]. In the sequel we assume dry
road ( = 1) and the deviation of the height h from its
nominal value to be known (e.g. estimated according to
[1] at the start of each ride).
cf = 582 kN/rad
cr = 783 kN/rad
c = 457 kN m/rad
d = 100 kN/rad
g = 9.81 m/s2
hR = 0.68 m
h = 1.15 m
J2,x = 24201 kg m2
Jz = 34917 kg m2
lf = 1.95 m
lr = 1.54 m
m = 14300 kg
m2 = 12487 kg
T = 1.86 m

front cornering stiffness

rear cornering stiffness
roll stiffness of passive suspension
roll damping of passive suspension
acceleration due to gravity
height of roll axis over ground
nominal height of CG2 over roll axis
roll moment of inertia, sprung mass
overall yaw moment of inertia
distance front axle to CG1
distance rear axle to CG1
overall vehicle mass
sprung mass
road adhesion coefficient
track width

Table 1: Numerical vehicle data.

m1 g



Figure 1: Vehicle rollover model.

A more detailed description of the model can be found
in [5].

Rollover coefficient
Fig. 1 illustrates some further physical assumptions for
the derivation of a rollover coefficient. The tire vertical
loads are denoted Fz,L and Fz,R . From the equilibrium
of vertical forces and balance of roll moments a rollover
coefficient R is defined as
Fz,R Fz,L
Fz,R + Fz,L

2 m2
+ h sin .
(hR + h cos )



If Fz,R = 0 (Fz,L = 0), then the right (left) wheels lift

off and the rollover coefficient takes on the value R = 1
(R = 1). For straight driving on a horizontal road and
symmetric load R equals zero because Fz,R = Fz,L . Note,
that the vehicle model is only valid if |R| 1, which means
that all wheels have road contact.
Assuming m1  m2 , h sin  (hR + h cos )ay,2 /g and
the roll angle to be small, eq. (5) is approximated by

2(hR + h) ay,2


which matches the definition of a rollover coefficient in [8].

According to this definition the ratio of track width T and
the height of CG2 hR + h is the most important vehicle
parameter affecting rollover risk. This corresponds well
with the results of an accident analysis [9]. The lateral
acceleration ay,2 at CG2 is related with the state variables
of the model by
ay,2 = v( + r) h .


Rollover avoidance control

The assumed controller structure, shown in Fig. 2, consists

of three feedback loops: Continuous operation steering
control, emergency steering control and emergency braking control. In addition to the steering angle s comPSfrag
manded by the driver, an auxiliary steering angle c is set
by an actuator, i.e. f = s +c . The actuator is modelled
as a third order dynamical filter
+ 2 da a s + a2 )(s + a )

with a = 2 5 Hz and da = 1/ 2. The actuator set

point a is formed by the sum of the continuous operation steering control signal and the emergency steering
control signal R . The latter and the braking force fx
are zero as long as the vehicle remains in a rollover stable
margin. This means that emergency steering and braking
The value of the
control are only activated for |R| > R.

threshold R is chosen with regard to safety considerations

and subject to the quality of the rollover coefficient signal
R. The latter mainly depends on the quality of the lateral
acceleration signals and the reliability of the CG height
= 0.9.
estimation. In this paper the threshold is set to R
In the sequel, the steering control concept shown in Fig. 2
Ga (s) =



h, v




kp (h, v) + kd (h, v) s
continuous operation
steering control



emergency steering control

Figure 2: Controller structure.
is described and investigated. First, only the continuous
operation steering control concept is studied. Then this

Continuous operation steering control

The task of the controller design presented in [5] was to
reduce the rollover risk for a wide speed range v [v , v + ]
and a known (or even uncertain) height h [h , h+ ]. The
corresponding operating domain is shown in Fig. 3. This


emergency braking control

concept is extended by adding emergency steering control and finally additional emergency braking control is



1.53 m
0.77 m

20 km/h

100 km/h v

Figure 3: Operating domain.

aim was met by improving the roll damping through gain

scheduled feedback of the roll rate and the roll acceleration, i.e. by the control law a = with
= kp (v, h) + kd (v, h) .


The scheduling law is described in detail in [5]. There, a

sensitivity analysis shows the robust performance of the
closed loop system.
With the feedback of and to the front wheel steering angle the roll damping of the vehicle was improved
considerably. In fact, the steering transfer function has
been shaped such that the roll mode is excited less in the
frequency range of the roll resonance frequency. Thus,
the risk of causing a rollover by steering excitation has
been reduced. However, even the controlled vehicle can
roll over if the steering input is large enough.


Rollover emergency steering control

The nonlinear control introduced in this section can be interpreted as an intelligent steering angle limitation such
that rollover on a plane road can be completely avoided.
The key idea is that rollover avoidance is given priority
over lanekeeping because a tipped vehicle is no longer
steerable. To drive the narrowest curve which is physically possible, maximum lateral acceleration must be applied. The lateral acceleration is limited, however, by the
boundary where rollover occurs. This boundary is reached
if the vehicle is steered such that the inner wheels are
just about to lift off the road, corresponding to |R| = 1.
The optimal strategy to keep the narrowest curve possible while avoiding rollover would be to keep |R| = 1.
With some safety margin, this idea is implemented in
a nonlinear steering control law. Therefore, if the mag then the overstepping difference
nitude of R exceeds R,

is fed back to the front wheel

R = kR sign(R) (|R| R)
steering angle f such that the curvature of the course is
slightly reduced and rollover is avoided, i.e. the emergency
steering control feedback is described by the relation
|R| > R

kR sign(R) (|R| R)
R =
|R| R
This strategy works very well as will be shown in section
4. In order to implement the prescribed effect, a dead
zone element is introduced into the emergency steering
feedback loop. The black line in Fig. 4 shows the characteristics of the dead zone with an absolute value threshold
and a slope of kR . This corresponds to the dead zone
of R

Sfrag replacements

1 R


Figure 4: Dead zone element and Popov sector.

element in the emergency steering feedback loop in Fig. 2.
However, this nonlinear element in the loop induces the
risk of limit cycles. Therefore, a stability analysis is performed using Popovs sufficient criterion on absolute stability [10]. This criterion is briefly illustrated: We consider
a controlled system with one nonlinear function f in the
loop (the rest of which is linear and has the stable transfer
function G0 (s)). The characteristics of f lies within a sector [0, k], which is limited by the abscissa f1 (u) = 0 and
by the line f2 (u) = k u (k corresponds to kR in Fig. 4).
Popov proved that the system is absolutely stable, if the
z = Re G0 (j) + j Im G0 (j), 0


(called the Popov plot) lies in the complex z-plane completely on the right hand side of a straight line (called
Popov line)

Im {z} = Re {z} +
with arbitrary slope .
To verify absolute stability for the nonlinear steering
control, Fig. 4 shows a Popov sector with slope kR (plotted
gray) which covers the characteristics of the dead zone
element. The depicted Popov plots in Fig. 5 belong to the
vertices of the operating domain. The different linestyles
correspond to those used in Fig. 3. For this analysis, G0 (s)
in eq. (11) is determined as the open loop transfer function
from R to R in Fig. 2. The vehicle and actuator dynamics




Im { z }



Re { z }

Figure 5: Popov line and Popov plots for the vertices of

the operating domain.

are represented by eqns. (1)-(3) and eq. (8) respectively

with the parameter values in Tab. 1. Note, emergency
braking is not used for this analysis. Fig. 5 shows a Popov
line which touches twice the Popov plot corresponding to
the most critical vertex V4 . This choice for the Popov line
yields the largest intersection with the real axis 1/kR =
2.54 and therefore the maximum allowable Popov sector

with kR
= 0.39. For the investigations in the sequel, a
slope of kR = 0.35 in the dead zone element was chosen.
Hence, the system is absolutely stable at all investigated
operating points. This is true because all Popov plots lie
to the right hand side of the Popov line. Thus, it is ensured
that no limit cycles occur in the nonlinear steering control


Rollover emergency braking control

Applying braking control requires the application of a nonlinear dynamic model of the vehicle with longitudinal velocity v as an additional state variable and the braking
force fx as an additional input (see Fig. 2). The presentation of this model is omitted here for the sake of brevity.
Note, however, that linearization for straight driving at
constant speed yields eqns. (1) - (3). fx is assumed to act
on CG1 in the vehicles longitudinal direction. The time
delay effect of the brakes is modelled by a first order lag
with a time constant of 0.1 s. The intention of emergency
braking is to make the deviation from the desired course
being induced by emergency steering control as small as
possible. This task is realized by decelerating the vehicle
as soon as the rollover coefficient becomes critical. The
braking action is described by the following relation:

|R| R
fx =

m ax,max |R| > R

Note, that fx,d in Fig. 2 describes the brake pedal force set
by the driver. Alternatively, in a refined realization a dynamic characteristics is applied to distinguish between decreasing (R sign(R) > 0) and increasing (R sign(R) < 0)
rollover stability. Assuming decreasing rollover stability,
braking shall be implemented as fast as possible while

in increasing rollover stability the breaking force shall be

withdrawn. Such a dynamical relation is e.g. given by


time (s)

time (s)

y (m)



time (s)


x (m)


r (deg/s)


Simulation results

The simulations were performed using the nonlinear dynamic vehicle model mentioned in section 3.3, assuming
dry road and an unfavourably large height, h = 1.53 m.
Fig. 6 shows the responses of the conventional (dashed
line) and the controlled vehicle (solid line) when a ramplike input signal is applied to the steering wheel angle
s . Both braking control approaches are investigated.
The black solid line corresponds to braking action due to
eq. (13), the gray line is according to eq. (14). This maneuver is similar to driving through a highway exit with increasing curvature (clotoidal transition). After about 3.5 s
the conventional vehicle rolls over. The dashed line ends
with the vehicle rollover, but for the sake of comparability
the simulation is continued until the end of the maneuver
(dotted linestyle). Note that the simulation model is no
longer valid if |R| > 1. The difference of both vehicles
until 3.5 s indicates the effect of the continuous operation
steering control.
Emergency steering and braking control is switched on
after about 3.3 s when the rollover coefficient R implies
that the vehicle is close to rollover, i.e. |R| > 0.9. Due
to the fast and precise steering intervention the rollover
is avoided. However, only little track error occurs in the
vehicles position plot (x, y) in Fig. 6 because the vehicle
is simultaneously decelerated by the emergency braking
Comparably advantageous results were obtained when
other maneuvers, e.g. lane change maneuvers, and variations of v and h were investigated in further simulations.

v (km/h)



time (s)




time (s)

time (s)



denotes the (dynamic) maximum absolute

where R
rollover coefficient which is stored in a memory while in
increasing rollover stability state.
For ax,max a value of 0.4 g is set. Emergency braking and steering control have been integrated such that
rollover is avoided for a wide input range while even keeping the deviation from the desired course small.
Future development will be made on a refined strategy
for taking the right dose of braking impact. Not necessarily maximum deceleration has to be applied for the
achievement of minimum tracking error. Then the goal
will be to coordinate the steering and braking action in
a precise manner such that the lateral displacement from
the course as intended by the driver gets minimal.


R sign(R) < 0
|R| > R

a /g

m ax,max

m ax,max

|R| R
R sign(R) > 0 ,
|R| > R


d/dt (deg/s)

fx =


time (s)


Figure 6: Simulation results for a driver steering input



A vehicle dynamics control concept composed of steering

and braking control was presented which significantly reduces the rollover hazard caused by steering inputs. Gain
scheduled continuous steering control as described in [5]
forms an inner control loop which achieves improved roll
dynamics. For rollover emergency case, an outer nonlinear steering control loop avoids rollover at the cost of some
course deviation. This lane tracking error is, however, reduced by simultaneous deceleration which also supports
rollover counteraction. An exemplary simulation of a maneuver with a rampwise steering input illustrates the functionality of the control concept. The Popov criterion was
used to prove robust absolute stability of the nonlinear
steering control.

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