This paper presents an evaluation of the adaptive, backstepping control technique applied to a single-degree-of-freedom, magnetic levitation system. Comparisons are made between a linear compensator and a backstepping compensator for step changes in the commanded position of levitation. Performance is evaluated based upon percent overshoot, settling time, steady-state error, and robustness to variations in levitated mass. The adaptive, backstepping compensator is found to achieve superior performance over the linear compensator when subjected to variations in both levitated mass and commanded position. By investigating the performance of this emerging technique known as backstepping under these inherently nonlinear conditions, it is intended to determine the feasibility and capabilities of this approach for practical applications to magnetic levitation systems.

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