Computational Science Technical Note CSTN-118


Mechanix: Vehicle Mechanical Simulation

A. P. Gerdelan

Archived November 2010


This paper describes a vehicle mechanical simulation system. The system has been built as a layer above the popular rigid body dynamics engine ODE, which is used for collision handling and integration of classical mechanics. After reading this paper, a reader familiar with ODE or other rigid body physics libraries should be able to recreate the mechanical simulation to the same specifications. The aim of the system is to provide a level of mechanical realism high enough to reproduce accurate acoustic and graphical representations of real vehicles in real-time, using measured performance data and known mechanical specifications. Rigid body dynamics does not represent all of the forces involved in vehicle physics, so additional physics models used are discussed. Methods for 3D visualisation of both physics primitives and high-quality graphical meshes are discussed, and details of algorithms for animating flexible body vehicles (such as "bendy" articulated buses, and Caterpillar tracks) using only rigid body movements are also provided. Special consideration has been given to reproducing realistic 3D audio accurately, and the mechanical requirements for accurate audio reproduction are also discussed here.

Keywords: simulation, mechanical engineering, mathematical models, visualisation, Open Dynamics Engine.

Full Document Text: PDF version.

Citation Information: BiBTeX database for CSTN Notes.

BiBTeX reference:

  author = {A.P. Gerdelan},
  title = {Mechanix: Vehicle Mechanical Simulation},
  institution = {Computer Science, Massey University},
  year = {2010},
  number = {CSTN-118},
  address = {Albany, North Shore 102-904, Auckland, New Zealand},
  month = {November},
  timestamp = {2011.05.16},
  url = {}

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