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Linear Time Super-Helices

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Abstract

Thin elastic rods such as cables, phone coils, tree branches, or hair, are common objects in the real world but computing their dynamics accurately remains challenging. The recent Super-Helix model, based on the discrete equations of Kirchhoff for a piecewise helical rod, is one of the most promising models for simulating non-stretchable rods that can bend and twist. However, this model suffers from a quadratic complexity in the number of discrete elements, which, in the context of interactive applications, makes it limited to a few number of degrees of freedom - or equivalently to a low number of variations in curvature along the mean curve. This paper proposes a new, recursive scheme for the dynamics of a Super-Helix, inspired by the popular algorithm of Featherstone for serial multibody chains. Similarly to Featherstone's algorithm, we exploit the recursive kinematics of a Super-Helix to propagate elements inertias from the free end to the clamped end of the rod, while the dynamics is solved within a second pass traversing the rod in the reverse way. Besides the gain in linear complexity, which allows us to simulate a rod of complex shape much faster than the original approach, our algorithm makes it straightforward to simulate tree-like structures of Super-Helices, which turns out to be particularly useful for animating trees and plants realistically, under large displacements.

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