node package manager

aframe-physics-system

Physics for A-Frame VR

Build Status GitHub license

Components for A-Frame physics integration, built on CANNON.js.

Contents

Installation

Scripts

In the dist/ folder, download the full or minified build. Include the script on your page, and all components are automatically registered for you:

<script src="//cdn.rawgit.com/donmccurdy/aframe-physics-system/v2.0.0/dist/aframe-physics-system.min.js"></script>

CDN builds for aframe-physics-system/v2.0.0:

npm

npm install --save aframe-physics-system
// my-app.js 
require('aframe-physics-system');

Once installed, you'll need to compile your JavaScript using something like Browserify or Webpack. Example:

npm install -g browserify
browserify my-app.js -o bundle.js

bundle.js may then be included in your page. See here for a better introduction to Browserify.

Basics

<!-- The debug:true option creates a wireframe around each physics body. If you don't see a wireframe,
     the physics system may be unable to parse your model without a shape:box or shape:hull option. -->
<a-scene physics="debug: true">
 
  <!-- Camera -->
  <a-entity camera look-controls></a-entity>
 
  <!-- Floor -->
  <a-plane static-body></a-plane>
 
  <!-- Immovable box -->
  <a-box static-body position="0 0.5 -5" width="3" height="1" depth="1"></a-box>
 
  <!-- Dynamic box -->
  <a-box dynamic-body position="5 0.5 0" width="1" height="1" depth="1"></a-box>
 
</a-scene>

Components

dynamic-body and static-body

The dynamic-body and static-body components may be added to any <a-entity/> that contains a mesh. Generally, each scene will have at least one static-body for the ground, and one or more dynamic-body instances that the player can interact with.

  • dynamic-body: A freely-moving object. Dynamic bodies have mass, collide with other objects, bounce or slow during collisions, and fall if gravity is enabled.
  • static-body: A fixed-position or animated object. Other objects may collide with static bodies, but static bodies themselves are unaffected by gravity and collisions.
Property Dependencies Default Description
shape auto auto, box, cylinder, sphere, hull, none
mass dynamic-body 5 Simulated mass of the object, > 0.
linearDamping dynamic-body 0.01 Resistance to movement.
angularDamping dynamic-body 0.01 Resistance to rotation.
sphereRadius shape:sphere Override default radius of bounding sphere.
cylinderAxis shape:cylinder Override default axis of bounding cylinder.

Body Shapes

Body components will attempt to find an appropriate CANNON.js shape to fit your model. When defining an object you may choose a shape or leave the default, auto. Select a shape carefully, as there are performance implications with different choices:

  • Auto (auto) – Chooses automatically from the available shapes.
  • Box (box) – Great performance, compared to Hull or Trimesh shapes, and may be fitted to custom models.
  • Cylinder (cylinder) – See box. Adds cylinderAxis option.
  • Sphere (sphere) – See box. Adds sphereRadius option.
  • Convex (hull) – Wraps a model like shrink-wrap. Convex shapes are more performant and better supported than Trimesh, but may still have some performance impact when used as dynamic objects.
  • Primitives – Plane/Cylinder/Sphere. Used automatically with the corresponding A-Frame primitives.
  • Trimesh (mesh) – Deprecated. Trimeshes adapt to fit custom geometry (e.g. a .OBJ or .DAE file), but have very minimal support. Arbitrary trimesh shapes are difficult to model in any JS physics engine, will "fall through" certain other shapes, and have serious performance limitations.
  • CompoundIn progress. Compound shapes require a bit of work to set up, but allow you to use multiple primitives to define a physics shape around custom models. These will generally perform better, and behave more accurately, than Trimesh or Convex shapes. For example, a stool might be modeled as a cylinder-shaped seat, on four long cylindrical legs.
  • None (none) – Does not add collision geometry.

For more details, see the CANNON.js collision matrix.

Example using a bounding box for a custom model:

<!-- Box -->
<a-entity obj-model="obj: url(...)" dynamic-body="shape: box; mass: 2"></a-entity>
 
<!-- Cylinder -->
<a-entity obj-model="obj: url(...)" dynamic-body="shape: cylinder; cylinderAxis: y; mass: 5"></a-entity>

constraint

The constraint component is used to bind physics bodies together using hinges, fixed distances, or fixed attachment points.

Example:

<a-box id="other-box" dynamic-body />
<a-box constraint="target: #other-box;" dynamic-body /> 
Property Dependencies Default Description
type lock Type of constraint. Options: lock, distance, hinge, coneTwist, pointToPoint.
target Selector for a single entity to which current entity should be bound.
maxForce 1e6 Maximum force that may be exerted to enforce this constraint.
collideConnected true If true, connected bodies may collide with one another.
wakeUpBodies true If true, sleeping bodies are woken up by this constraint.
distance type:distance auto Distance at which bodies should be fixed. Default, or 0, for current distance.
pivot type: pointToPoint, coneTwist, hinge 0 0 0 Offset of the hinge or point-to-point constraint, defined locally in this element's body.
targetPivot type: pointToPoint, coneTwist, hinge 0 0 0 Offset of the hinge or point-to-point constraint, defined locally in the target's body.
axis type: coneTwist, hinge 0 0 1 An axis that each body can rotate around, defined locally to this element's body.
targetAxis type: coneTwist, hinge 0 0 1 An axis that each body can rotate around, defined locally to the target's body.

Using the CANNON.js API

For more advanced physics, use the CANNON.js API with custom JavaScript and A-Frame components. The CANNON.js documentation and source code offer good resources for learning to work with physics in JavaScript.

In A-Frame, each entity's CANNON.Body instance is exposed on the el.body property. To apply a quick push to an object, you might do the following:

<a-scene>
  <a-entity id="nyan" dynamic-body="shape: hull" obj-model="obj: url(nyan-cat.obj)"></a-entity>
  <a-plane static-body></a-plane>
</a-scene>
var el = sceneEl.querySelector('#nyan');
el.body.applyImpulse(
  /* impulse */        new CANNON.Vec3(0, 1, -1),
  /* world position */ new CANNON.Vec3().copy(el.getComputedAttribute('position'))
);

Collision Events

CANNON.js generates events when a collision is detected, which are propagated onto the associated A-Frame entity. Example:

var playerEl = document.querySelector('[camera]');
playerEl.addEventListener('collide', function (e) {
  console.log('Player has collided with body #' + e.detail.body.id);
 
  e.detail.target.el;  // Original entity (playerEl). 
  e.detail.body.el;    // Other entity, which playerEl touched. 
  e.detail.contact;    // Stats about the collision (CANNON.ContactEquation). 
  e.detail.contact.ni; // Normal (direction) of the collision (CANNON.Vec3). 
});

Note that CANNON.js cannot perfectly detect collisions with very fast-moving bodies. Doing so requires Continuous Collision Detection, which can be both slow and difficult to implement. If this is an issue for your scene, consider (1) slowing objects down, (2) detecting collisions manually (collisions with the floor are easy – position.y - height / 2 <= 0), or (3) attempting a PR to CANNON.js. See: Collision with fast bodies.

System Configuration

Contact materials define what happens when two objects meet, including physical properties such as friction and restitution (bounciness). The default, scene-wide contact materials may be configured on the scene element:

<a-scene physics="friction: 0.1; restitution: 0.5">
  <!-- ... -->
</a-scene>

NOTE: It is possible to run physics on a Web Worker using the physics="driver: worker" option. Using a worker is helpful for maintaining a smooth framerate, because physics simulation does not block the main thread. However, scenes needing highly-responsive interaction (for example, tossing and catching objects) may prefer to run physics locally, where feedback from the physics system will be immediate.

Property Default Description
debug true Whether to show wireframes for debugging.
gravity -9.8 Force of gravity (in m/s^2).
iterations 10 The number of solver iterations determines quality of the constraints in the world. The more iterations, the more correct simulation. More iterations need more computations though. If you have a large gravity force in your world, you will need more iterations.
maxInterval 0.0667 Maximum simulated time (in milliseconds) that may be taken by the physics engine per frame. Effectively prevents weird "jumps" when the player returns to the scene after a few minutes, at the expense of pausing physics during this time.
friction 0.01 Coefficient of friction.
restitution 0.3 Coefficient of restitution (bounciness).
contactEquationStiffness 1e8 Stiffness of the produced contact equations.
contactEquationRelaxation 3 Relaxation time of the produced contact equations.
frictionEquationStiffness 1e8 Stiffness of the produced friction equations.
frictionEquationRegularization 3 Relaxation time of the produced friction equations
driver local [local, worker]
workerFps 60 Steps per second to be used in physics simulation on worker.
workerInterpolate true Whether the main thread should interpolate physics frames from the worker.
workerInterpBufferSize 2 Number of physics frames to be 'padded' before displaying. Advanced.
workerDebug false If true, the worker codepaths are used on the main thread. This is slow, because physics snapshots are needlessly serialized, but helpful for debugging.

More advanced configuration, including specifying different collision behaviors for different objects, is available through the CANNON.js JavaScript API.

Resources: