Fluid Power Controls Laboratory
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Minnesota
111 Church St. SE
Rm 458
Minneapolis MN 55455


The University of Minnesota Fluid Power Controls Laboratory is a teaching and research laboratory dedicated to the promotion and advancement of fluid power technologies. Founded in Spring 1999, the laboratory is generously supported by a consortium of fluid power related companies. The education mission of the laboratory was kicked off with the senior level course ME 5232 - Fluid Power Controls Laboratory in Spring quarter of 1999. This course is later renumbered as ME4232 with the same name under the semester system. The research aspect of this laboratory is to use and advocate the rigorous use of dynamic systems, control and mechatronic concepts to fluid power systems in innovative ways. Our research has focused on the design of new fluid power components, on the development of human friendly hydraulic systems such as teleoperated hydraulic machines and human power amplifiers, and on the use of fluid power in energy and transportation systems. With the birth of the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) in 2006, research in the Fluid Power Controls Laboratory has merged with that of the CCEFP.

Equipment (circa 2004)

Hydraulic workbench

The hydraulic workbench is used to demonstrate the operation of hydraulic components. The workbench is powered by a 1Hp variable displacement pressure compensated vane pump. Students use the workbench to build hydraulic circuits to enhance their understanding of fluid power systems.

Teaching workbench 1                  Teaching workbench components

Electrohydraulic actuator

The electrohydraulic actuator is used as an experimental setup for the design and implementation of control algorithms. The MTS double ended cylinder actuator is coupled to a Moog servo valve. The servo valve is controlled by a PC (NT) via the Realtime toolbox in the Matlab environment. Students can design, simulate, analyze and test control algorithms in the Matlab environment. The actuator is set up for both positioning and force control experiments.

Linear actuator setup                   FPCL

Teleoperated Backhoe with Force Feedback

This setup is used for our research on passive teleoperation of hydraulic machines. As the human operator operates the backhoe via the force feedback joystick, the resistance that the backhoe encounters is fed back to the operator. This makes the teleoperated backhoe feels like a passive mechanical tool to the human operator.

The backhoe is also used for generic research of high performance control of multi-degree-of-freedom electrohydraulic machines.

Bilateral teleoperated backhoe

Stringline Follower System

A stringline follower system is widely used in paving industry. It is essentially a dual actuated beam system. Each end of the beam is actuated by a hydraulic actuator. The control must level the beam according to the angle of a string.

Stringline control system

Human Power Amplifier


“Quiet” Hydraulic Power Supply


Fluid Power Reading Group


Course offering:

Research :

Past research:

Current research (2014):


Our goal is to develop a mobile hydraulic actuated human exoskeleton or human amplifier. The first phase of the project concerns the design and construction of a human powered oar and was carried out by the Senior Design team - the oar team. See above for a video of the machine in operation! Fundings from NFPA and donations from Eaton and TORO are appreciated.

 Publications (chronological) , (by topics)


Consortium members:

Other sponsors:

These companies have donated equipment.


For more information, please contact:

Prof. Perry Li
email: lixxx099@umn.edu
Tel: (612)-626-7815

Last Updated: July 2014   Perry Li