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Equations for aiming tennis ball parabolic motion

  1. Apr 26, 2009 #1
    Hi, I'm writting a 3D tennis game, and I need to revamp how the computer player hits the ball. I have a simple physics model for trajectory (no air resistance) that works great, but now I need to have the computer player play smarter, and make judgements about how to get the ball over the net optimally and to the target on the other side of the court.

    This is a problem of solving linear equations for parabolic motion? (Again, there is no air drag in this game). Specifically what I need is what is the angle and velocity to hit the ball so that the ball goes through 3 points:

    - Start position when hit is x1,y1,z1.
    - The ball must be hit to x3,y3,z3 (z3=0 when hit ground).
    - The ball must also get over the net at height z2 ie position x2,y2,z2.

    What equations or code will tell me speed and velocity for hitting the ball through these 3 points?

    Many thanks
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 26, 2009 #2
    what language are you writing this in?
  4. Apr 26, 2009 #3
    Its for iPhone, so C, but I can translate from anything if you have some handy source code. Thanks.
  5. Apr 26, 2009 #4
    Motion occurs in three dimensions but we can simplify it to 2 dimensions by considering only the plane containing the vector we want to hit the ball in (so the 2 dimensions of the plane are up and forward).

    I assume your physics model neglects drag forces so, in the forward direction, the ball is given an initial velocity via. an impulse force and then no further acceleration occurs. So, motion in the forward dimension is simply

    x = v0*t + x0

    or equivalently,
    d = rt

    Note that, hitting the ball amounts to choosing initial velocity. For this dimension we can pick an arbitrary velocity. Then we solve for t (time) to see how long it will take to cover the distance from one side of the court to the other.

    The second step is to consider the vertical motion of a parabola with that previous time value in mind, such that the final height will be 0 at the given time t, indicating that the motion has completed it's arc.

    From the equations of motion with constant acceleration,

    What variables do we know? We know the final time, final position, and final acceleration but not the final velocity so we choose this equation:

    x = x0+ v0*t + 1/2*a*t^2

    x0 = initial height
    x = final height ( = 0, since it hits table)
    v0 = unknown
    t = known, from first part
    a = known, gravity

    So you can just solve for v0.

    Now you can combine the initial velocity that you chose randomly from step 1 with this one and that gives you the initial velocity vector (speed is just the length of the velocity vector)
  6. Apr 27, 2009 #5
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