This paper presents a model reference adaptive control (MRAC) approach to enhance the lateral stability of car-trailer systems. To this end, a 3 degrees of freedom (DOF) linear yaw-plane car-trailer model was developed as a “reference model”. The yaw rate of leading and trailing units of the reference model were used as the target states to control and stabilize a virtual vehicle plant represented by a 5 DOF linear yaw-roll car-trailer model. A Lyapunov-based controller was designed to handle the lateral stability of the car-trailer dynamical system. The model parameters and operating conditions of the system were predefined while designing the controller. The effectiveness of the adaptive controller for improving the lateral stability of car-trailer systems was demonstrated under a simulated multiple cycle sine-wave steering input maneuver. It was observed that the lateral stability of car-trailer system was improved by controlling respective yaw rates of the car and the trailer, using model reference adaptive control approach in conjunction with Lyapunov stability criterion.

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