Concept Analysis for Reconfigurable Systems
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There has been a significant amount of research investigating the design task of concept analysis, and much research on reconfigurable system design. Despite previous efforts, further research is still needed that explores how concept analysis should best be conducted for reconfigurable systems. Because reconfigurable systems have multiple configurations that provide added functionality and variable performance features that likely amount to a more complex concept, additional information is required to understand each concept, making the design selection process more demanding. Desirable functions, concepts for each phase, and concepts for transition methods between configurations all need to be evaluated. These features are in addition to the standard subjects of evaluation including system level performance and usage attributes. A framework is developed to evaluate the many options a designer may face when performing the concept analysis phase of reconfigurable system design. The framework is designed to be modular so that any tool or method that appropriately represents any of the steps in the process, and works properly with reconfigurable systems, can be plugged in readily. For the several tools that are identified, the influence of reconfigurability is the focus of discussion. Special attention is given to the evaluation criteria used in the process. Two case studies are used to demonstrate how the framework is applied, and how existing concept analysis tools can be adapted to account for additional criteria. A stowable Miniature Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (MUAV) is designed using Pugh Controlled Convergence. Utility theory is adapted for use with reconfigurable concepts and demonstrated with the design of a tree stand that allows a hunter to increase their available sight paths. The thesis concludes with a review of the contributions of this work and identifies areas of future work.