Vehicle dynamics simulation based on multibody dynamics techniques has become a powerful tool for vehicle systems analysis and design. As this approach evolves, more and more details are required to increase the accuracy of the simulations, to improve their efficiency, or to provide more information that will allow various types of analyses. One very important direction is the optimization of multibody systems. Sensitivity analysis of the dynamics of multibody systems is essential for design optimization. Dynamic sensitivities, when needed, are often calculated by means of finite differences but, depending of the number of parameters involved, this procedure can be very demanding in terms of time and the accuracy obtained can be very poor in many cases if real perturbations are used. In this paper, several ways to perform the sensitivity analysis of multibody systems are explored including the direct sensitivity approaches and the adjoint sensitivity ones. Finally, the techniques proposed are applied to the dynamical optimization of a five bar mechanism and a vehicle suspension system.

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