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Rigid Body Rotation and Translation of Tips

The Rotation Matrix, R, has Three Applications and Interpretations

1. Representation of a body's orientation
2. Rotation of a rigid body
3. Coordinate system transformation
Characteristics of R
3D Rotations
Notation Used:
c.s. => abbreviation for coordinate system
O => Origin of a c.s.
x,y => axes of a c.s.
, => unit vectors aligned with the x,y axes
Representation of a Body's Orientation
A rigid bodys location and orientation can be specified with a c.s. attached the body (typically at a
point of interest). As the body rotates and translates, the c.s. move with the body. This body c.s.
allows one to calculate the location of any point on the body. Shown below is a body with an
origin Ob and axes xb and yb. The unit vectors of the body c.s. are b and b. In the configuration
shown below, the body axes are aligned with the fixed c.s. axes, and thus the unit vectors are as

rigid body
y b ^jb


fixed c.s.

x b ^ib


body c.s.

Rigid Body With Axes Aligned With Fixed C.S.

For an arbitrary orientation of the rigid body, the body axes xb and yb are rotated relative to the
fixed c.s. by the angle . As shown below the unit vectors, are b and b are a function of .








Body Orientation for Arbitrary Angle

In 2D, the angle is sufficient to specify the orientation of a body. However, it is desirable
to have a matrix representation of the bodys orientation for kinematic calculations. In
addition, in 3D angles alone are not sufficient to represent a bodys orientation, and thus
a matrix representation is essential. Therefore, the orientation of the body is represented
by a Rotation matrix, Rb, where the columns of matrix are unit vectors aligned with the x
and y axis of the body.
Rb => Rotation matrix of a body

Rb = [b | b], where b and b are the unit column vectors aligned with the axis of the body c.s.
The values for b and b are shown in the above figure, and thus the orientation of a 2D body is
specified by:

change to b, where is the angle of the xb and yb axes relative to the fixed x and y axes.

Rotation of a Rigid Body

A rotation matrix can also be used to apply a rigid rotation to a body about its origin. We still use
the notation of R for this matrix, but its application is not to be confused with the orientation of a
body, Rb defined above. A body can start at an initial orientation, Rb,initial, have a number of
rotations, and have a final orientation, , Rb,final.

Rotation of a Point About the Origin

A rotation matrix can also be used to rotate a point about the origin. The figure below shows the
point, p, rotated about the origin by the amount r to reach the rotated point, pr. While both the
p => original point location, with components px and py in the original coordinate system
pr => the rotated point location, with components prx and pry in the rotated
coordinate system









x ^i

Rotation of a Point About the Origin

The componets of point
The matrix R can be used to rotate a vector about the origin
Rr => Rotation matrix corresponding to a rotation
=> angle of rotation
p => vector from origin to point p
pr => vector from origin to point p after rotation


pr = Rr p
Consecutive Rotations
To perform two consecutive rotations, perform the first rotation and then rotate the body again. If
R1 is the first rotation and R2 is second rotation. The rotated vector is:

pr = R2 (R1 p)
Rotation and Translation of Rigid Body
To rotate a body about its origin and then translate the origin of that body by the vector d

prt => vector to point p after rotation about origin and then translation
prt = d + Rr p
3D Rotations and Order of Rotation
3D rotation matrices can be used to rotate a body about a selected axis. Rotation matrices for
rotations about the x, y, and z axis are shown below

Consecutive rotations about the axis of the fixed c.s. can be implemented by repeating the
rotation matrix multipication in the order in which the rotations are implemented.
Rotation of a vector, p, about the x axis, then y axis, then z axis is given by:
pr = Rz Ry Rx p
Where as rotation of a vector, p, about the z axis, then y axis, then x axis is given by:
pr = Rx Ry Rz p

Multiplication of Rotation matrices Rz Ry Rx is given by

Multiplication of Rotation matrices Rx Ry Rz is given by

Small Angles of Rotation

As seen by the above equations, for arbitrary angles of rotation the order of the rotations does
effect the final orientation of the body.
However for small angles of rotation sin() = , and cos() = 1 - 2/2
>> 2
Symbolically evaluate overall rotation matrix (RxRyRz) vs. (RzRyRx) for small angles of rotation