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Real-time hybrid testing of civil structures represents a grand challenge in the emerging area of cyber-physical systems. Hybrid testing improves significantly on either purely numerical or purely empirical approaches by integrating physical structural components and computational models. Actuator dynamics, complex interactions among computers and physical components, and computation and communication delays all hamper the ability to conduct accurate tests. To address these challenges, this paper presents initial work towards a Cyber-physical Instrument for Real-time hybrid Structural Testing (CIRST). CIRST aims to provide two salient features: a highly configurable architecture for integrating computers and physical components; and system support or real-time operations in distributed hybrid testing.
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