Method developed at DIKU now used in the Bullet Physics engine – University of Copenhagen

07 November 2013

Method developed at DIKU now used in the Bullet Physics engine

simulation, numerical method

During development of a new numerical method for rigid body simulation in the Bullet Physics engine, used in Hollywood movies and computer games, PhD student Sarah Niebe contributed an essential part to the research.

The latest version of the Bullet Physics engine used in Hollywood movies and computer games, contains a numerical method developed at DIKU. The method is developed as part of Sarah Niebe's PhD research, in collaboration with the simulation research team at DIKU.

The nonsmooth nonlinear conjugate gradient (NNCG) method was developed by the research team to provide more accurate results in interactive rigid body simulations

Essential contribution to experimental quality validation

The Bullet physics engine is being used for vFX special effects in Hollywood movies and computer games. Niebe's contribution was essential to the experimental validation that showed how good NNCG was compared to state-of-the-art in this field. The people behind the Bullet physics engine even report NNCG to perform better than the golden standard methods such PGS and Lemke.

Math and physics essential to movies and games

The research team at DIKU is excited about the news of their academic work being used by the Bullet physics engine. Principal investigator Professor Kenny Erleben says:

»People often ask me about what all this math and physics we play around with can be used for. Now I can finally point them to Bullet physics engine and tell them that our math is inside that thing which is the most used physics engine for making movies and games.«

Quality research takes time - and good research programmers

When asked why it took 3 year for the team's research to reach the industry end-users, Erleben replies:

»This is in fact a very fast turn around time for our basic research to get out in the front line. It takes time to get our math into software and make it work for production. If it were recognized by funding agencies that computer science laboratories need research programmers then we could do this much faster.«


About Sarah Niebe

Sarah Niebe received both her B.Sc (2006) and Master's degree (2009) at the Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen (DIKU). She is a PhD student at DIKU, under the supervision of Kenny Erleben.