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Tangential and Normal

If we have an idea of the path of a vehicle, it is often convenient
to analyze the motion using tangential and normal components
(sometimes called path coordinates).

Tangential and Normal

= the instantaneous
radius of curvature

v = v et


v= vt et

e t + en


The tangential direction (et) is tangent to the path of the
particle. This velocity vector of a particle is in this direction
The normal direction (en) is perpendicular to et and points
towards the inside of the curve.
The acceleration can have components in both the en and et directions

Tangential and Normal

To derive the acceleration vector in tangential
and normal components, define the motion of a
particle as shown in the figure.

et and et are tangential unit vectors for the

particle path at P and P. When drawn with

respect to the same origin, et = et et and
is the angle between them.

et = 2 sin ( 2 )

sin ( 2 )

en = en
= lim
0 2


en =

Tangential and Normal Components

With the velocity vector expressed as v = vet

the particle
may be written
dv dv
det dv
de d ds
= et + v
= et + v t
dt dt
dt dt
d ds dt
= en
d = ds
After substituting,
dv v 2
an =
at =
a = et + en


The tangential component of acceleration

reflects change of speed and the normal
component reflects change of direction.
The tangential component may be positive or
negative. Normal component always points
toward center of path curvature.

Define your coordinate system
Calculate the tangential velocity and
tangential acceleration
Calculate the normal acceleration
A motorist is traveling on a curved
section of highway of radius 750 m
at the speed of 90 km/h. The
motorist suddenly applies the brakes,
causing the automobile to slow
down at a constant rate. Knowing
that after 8 s the speed has been
reduced to 72 km/h, determine the
acceleration of the automobile
immediately after the brakes have
been applied.

Determine overall acceleration magnitude

after the brakes have been applied

Radial and Transverse Components

By knowing the distance to the aircraft and the

angle of the radar, air traffic controllers can
track aircraft.
Fire truck ladders can rotate as well as extend;
the motion of the end of the ladder can be
analyzed using radial and transverse

Radial and Transverse Components

The position of a particle P is
expressed as a distance r from the
origin O to P this defines the
radial direction er. The transverse
direction e is perpendicular to er

r = re r

The particle velocity vector is

The particle acceleration vector is

Evaluate time t for = 30o.
Evaluate radial and angular positions,
and first and second derivatives at
time t.
Rotation of the arm about O is defined
by = 0.15t2 where is in radians and t
in seconds. Collar B slides along the
arm such that r = 0.9 - 0.12t2 where r is
in meters.
After the arm has rotated through 30o,
determine (a) the total velocity of the
collar, (b) the total acceleration of the
collar, and (c) the relative acceleration
of the collar with respect to the arm.

Calculate velocity and acceleration in

cylindrical coordinates.
Evaluate acceleration with respect to

Kinematic questions
An elevator is moving upward with a constant
speed of 4m/s
A man standing 10m above the top and throws a
ball upward with a speed of 3m/s
Determine when the ball will hit the elevator?
Determine where the ball will hit the elevator with
respect to the location of the man?

Kinematic questions
A car moves with a constant speed v0=100km/h on the level portion of
the road. When going up the grade at tan=6/100, the car does not
change the setting and eventually the car decelerates at the constant rate
gsin. Find the speed of the car a) 10 seconds after passing point A, b)
when x =100m???

Kinematic questions
An object is released from rest in a tank of oil. The downward
acceleration of the object is g kv. Derive expressions for the velocity v
and vertical drop y as functions of the time t after release?

Kinematic questions
As shown, a projectile is fired horizontally into a tank with v0. Given that the
acceleration is kv2. Derive expressions for the distance (D) passed into the liquid
and the corresponding time t required to reduce the velocity to v0/2.

Kinematic questions
A helicopter is flying with a constant horizontal velocity of 180km/h and is
directly above point A when a loose part begins to fall. The part lands 6.5s later
at point B on an inclined surface. Determine a) the distance d between points A
and B, b) the initial height h.

Kinematic questions
An airplane used to drop water on brushfires is flying horizontally in a straight
line at 315km/h at an altitude of 80m. Determine the distance d at which the
pilot should release the water so that it will hit the fire at B

Path coordinates example 1

A motorist starts from rest at Point A on a circular entrance ramp when t = 0,
increases the speed of her automobile at a constant rate and enters the highway
at Point B. Knowing that her speed continues to increase at the same rate until it
reaches 100 km/h at Point C, determine (a) the speed at Point B, (b) the
magnitude of the total acceleration when t = 20 s.

Path coordinates example 2

A driver applies his brakes to produce a uniform deceleration. His speed is
100km/h at the bottom A of the dip and 50km/h at the top C of the hump,
which is 120m along the road from A. If the passengers experience a total
acceleration of 3m/s2 at A and if the radius of curvature of the hump at C

Path coordinates example 3

Racecar A is traveling on a straight portion of the track while racecar B is
traveling on a circular portion of the track. At the instant shown, the speed of A
is increasing at the rate of 10 m/s2, and the speed of B is decreasing at the rate
of 6 m/s2. For the position shown, determine (a) the velocity of B relative to A,
(b) the acceleration of B relative to A.