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The SPACAR software is currently being developed at the Faculty of Engineering Technology, University of Twente, and is partly based on work carried out at the Laboratory for Engineering Mechanics, Delft University of Technology.
The computer program SPACAR is based on the non-linear finite element theory for multi-degree of freedom mechanisms as described in Jonker’s lecture notes on the Dynamics of Machines and Mechanisms 1). The program is capable of analysing the dynamics of planar and spatial mechanisms and manipulators with flexible links and treats the general case of coupled large displacement motion and small elastic deformation. The motion can be simulated by solving the complete set of non-linear equations of motion or by using the so-called perturbation method. The computational efficiency of the latter method can be improved further by applying modal techniques. In this chapter, an outline of the SPACAR package for use with MATLAB and SIMULINK is given in the next sections. For instance, for the design of mechanical systems involving automatic controls (such as robotic manipulators), interfaces with MATLAB  are provided for openloop system analyses, Section 1.2. Open-loop and closed-loop simulations can be carried out with blocks from a SIMULINK library, Section 1.4. A special visualization tool, SPAVISUAL, is described in Section 1.3. Additional tools are available for using the perturbation method and the modal techniques in SIMULINK (Section 1.5). Installation notes for SPACAR are given in Appendix A. A graphical user interface (GUI) for generating input files for spatial systems is available and will be further developed. People interested in rigid planar mechanisms may consider the use of the commercially available package SAM by ARTAS . It has a nice graphical interface for the definition of mechanisms and it provides more elements than SPACAR.