System Identification & investigation of Human-Structure-Interaction (HSI) phenomena in differing biomechanical loading situations

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Civil Engineering


Human-Structure Interactions (HSI) is a severely misunderstood research area in engineering with a serious lack of full-scale experimental data from existing structures. It is of serious importance in the Civil and Structural disciplines due to the surprising complex behaviours observed in previous recorded incidents. For example, the sudden onset of lateral vibrations, wobbling, of the London Millennium Footbridge on its opening day and weekend. This has postulated the question of whether structures within and throughout cities are being constructed in the best manner. As advancements are constantly being made throughout the Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematical (STEM) communities the need to understand unknown phenomena drives us to create a better world to live in. Civilian safety is of the upmost importance in the infrastructure of a city. Hence, the serviceability and maintenance of structures is crucial in ensuring it.

This research area is very unique in that it draws from a large spectrum of engineering disciplines, integrating a variety of concepts and principles, to get a complete understanding of the phenomena observed in HSI. The fields of biomechanics, nonlinear dynamics and crowd dynamics are of crucial importance. Can we effectively model human responses through biomechanical principals to identify and quantify the mechanisms observed between structures and people? How is it possible that the dynamic feedback in HSI produces complex and unexpected resonances?

This study aims to investigate the HSI phenomena in differing human loading situations. Specifically, in bridge and grandstand structures during human gait, jumping and bobbing. The framework of this study will comprise both theoretical and experimental work. Analysis of full-scale data from a crowd loading event of a bridge will be completed. System identification techniques will be used to effectively process and classify the data. It will be used to better understand and categorise the underlying mechanisms involved. Also, to validate and fine tune current biomechanical models. The theoretical scope will look at the application of nonlinear dynamics in the examination of these models. This will be supported by an in-depth parametric study using computational software, MATLAB, to simulate responses. The intention is to simplify them in a definitive way to hold the main characteristics and fundamentals whilst still providing accurate results. The objective is to develop this into a global system structure which can be used as a general case for design purposes.

The outcome of this research will create accurately refined dynamic models aiding in the design, construction and maintenance of civil and mechanical structures. It could lead to the advancements in system compensators such as inerters; for example, J Dampers in Formula One.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509619/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1963538 Studentship EP/N509619/1 04/09/2017 31/08/2022 Rory White