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Journal of the Brazilian Society of Mechanical Sciences

Print version ISSN 0100-7386


TRINDADE, Marcelo A.  and  SAMPAIO, Rubens. On the numerical integration of rigid body nonlinear dynamics in presence of parameters singularities. J. Braz. Soc. Mech. Sci. [online]. 2001, vol.23, n.1, pp. 49-62. ISSN 0100-7386.

One of the main complexities in the simulation of the nonlinear dynamics of rigid bodies consists in describing properly the finite rotations that they may undergo. It is well known that, to avoid singularities in the representation of the SO(3) rotation group, at least four parameters must be used. However, it is computationally expensive to use a four-parameters representation since, as only three of the parameters are independent, one needs to introduce constraint equations in the model, leading to differential-algebraic equations instead of ordinary differential ones. Three-parameter representations are numerically more efficient. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to evaluate numerically the influence of the parametrization and its singularities on the simulation of the dynamics of a rigid body. This is done through the analysis of a heavy top with a fixed point, using two three-parameter systems, Euler's angles and rotation vector. Theoretical results were used to guide the numerical simulation and to assure that all possible cases were analyzed. The two parametrizations were compared using several integrators. The results show that Euler's angles lead to faster integration compared to the rotation vector. An Euler's angles singular case, where representation approaches a theoretical singular point, was analyzed in detail. It is shown that on the contrary of what may be expected, 1) the numerical integration is very efficient, even more than for any other case, and 2) in spite of the uncertainty on the Euler's angles themselves, the body motion is well represented.

Keywords : Finite rotations; heavy top; Euler's angles; rotation vector; nonlinear dynamics; representation singularities.

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