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VWN Product Reviews: Robot Dynamics Algorithms

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Whilst over 30 years old now, this book is one of those whose usefulness is never likely to fade. It is a physics book, dealing with the mathematics and physical constraints of getting any rigid body jointed system to move as desired. Designed initially with robots in mind, long before the avatar, the maths contained within is ideal for grounding on ragdoll physics as used with avatars.

As the promotional blurb puts it:

Rigid Body Dynamics Algorithms presents the subject of computational rigid-body dynamics through the medium of spatial 6D vector notation. It explains how to model a rigid-body system and how to analyze it, and it presents the most comprehensive collection of the best rigid-body dynamics algorithms to be found in a single source. The use of spatial vector notation greatly reduces the volume of algebra which allows systems to be described using fewer equations and fewer quantities. It also allows problems to be solved in fewer steps, and solutions to be expressed more succinctly. In addition algorithms are explained simply and clearly, and are expressed in a compact form. The use of spatial vector notation facilitates the implementation of dynamics algorithms on a computer: shorter, simpler code that is easier to write, understand and debug, with no loss of efficiency.


Because this is something of a niche area, the part about this being the most comprehensive single source, is still true. Of note is that the author of the book created the algorithm of the same name (Featherstone's algorithm) which is typically used in most games or simulation that use ragdoll physics. Details of this work are also included in the book.

In addition, much of the work necessary to create avatar prioproception is covered, with topics such as spatial kinematics, spatial dynamicsm inverse dynamics; forward dynamics, co-ordinate systems and efficiency; contact, impact, and kinematic loops discussed in depth.

 

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