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best physics library for serious development

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Hi , i would like to know which library should i use for a serious application, in robotics simulation, my plans are using opengl for rendering and integrating havok or physx for joints simulations. Since i never used a physics library i would like , also , to know if such systems are capable of handling connected bodies under controlled torque taking account of joint inertia weight and position. The main controlling algorithm is based on genetic signal feedback. thanks

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Havok and PhysX are probably going to be at best first order accurate in time and space, and probably worse than that in practice. They are optimized for speed and robustness, not accuracy. If you're going for speed and robustness, then either would be a good choice. Both can represent a full inertia tensor, mass, position and orientation. Both can handle joints/connected bodies, and give you the ability to apply a controlled torque. However, I will say that the set of joints provided with PhysX aren't as flexible as I would like, for a robotics simulation. I can't speak for Havok, since I haven't used that toolkit. I'll also say that these "real-time" physics systems tend to not do as well when mass ratios (e.g., ratio of mass of one body to another) are very large or very small.

The Vortex library from CM-Labs may work better for robotics simulation. They do in fact use it for serious robotics simulation work, e.g., crane operation simulations, ROV robots, etc. This library has ancestry in game physics (which itself has ancestry in R&D and robotics physics simulation), but has been developed away from games for several years now. There are some good people working for that company.

I believe Microsoft has a robotics simulation toolkit that might be useful. In terms of physics, though, I think it uses PhysX under the hood.

[Edited by - grhodes_at_work on November 24, 2008 10:41:09 AM]

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I'd give Newton a try. I know a few people have used it for research and academic purposes. It's emphasis is on accuracy over speed (though it's no slouch), including advanced effects like coriolis forces amongst others.

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