Skip to content
2D elastic collision engine
Branch: master
Clone or download

Elastic Collision


An elastic collision is an encounter between two bodies in which the total kinetic energy of the two bodies after the encounter is equal to their total kinetic energy before the encounter. Perfectly elastic collisions occur only if there is no net conversion of kinetic energy into other forms (such as heat or noise) and therefore they do not normally occur in reality. During the collision of small objects, kinetic energy is first converted to potential energy associated with a repulsive force between the particles (when the particles move against this force, i.e. the angle between the force and the relative velocity is obtuse), then this potential energy is converted back to kinetic energy (when the particles move with this force, i.e. the angle between the force and the relative velocity is acute). The collisions of atoms are elastic collisions (Rutherford backscattering is one example).


For the case of two colliding bodies in two dimensions, the overall velocity of each body must be split into two perpendicular velocities: one tangent to the common normal surfaces of the colliding bodies at the point of contact, the other along the line of collision. Since the collision only imparts force along the line of collision, the velocities that are tangent to the point of collision do not change. The velocities along the line of collision can then be used in the same equations as a one-dimensional collision. The final velocities can then be calculated from the two new component velocities and will depend on the point of collision. Studies of two-dimensional collisions are conducted for many bodies in the framework of a two-dimensional gas.

In a center of momentum frame at any time the velocities of the two bodies are in opposite directions, with magnitudes inversely proportional to the masses. In an elastic collision these magnitudes do not change. The directions may change depending on the shapes of the bodies and the point of impact. For example, in the case of spheres the angle depends on the distance between the (parallel) paths of the centers of the two bodies. Any non-zero change of direction is possible: if this distance is zero the velocities are reversed in the collision; if it is close to the sum of the radii of the spheres the two bodies are only slightly deflected. Assuming that the second particle is at rest before the collision, the angles of deflection of the two particles, v1 and v2, are related to the angle of deflection theta in the system of the center of mass by

alt text

The magnitudes of the velocities of the particles after the collision are:

alt text

Two-dimensional collision with two moving objects

The final x and y velocities components of the first ball can be calculated as

alt text

where v1 and v2 are the scalar sizes of the two original speeds of the objects, m1 and m2 are their masses, Ɵ1 and Ɵ2 are their movement angles, that is, v1x = v1cosƟ1, v1y = v1sinƟ1 (meaning moving directly down to the right is either a -45° angle, or a 315°angle), and lowercase phi (φ) is the contact angle. (To get the x and y velocities of the second ball, one needs to swap all the '1' subscripts with '2' subscripts.) This equation is derived from the fact that the interaction between the two bodies is easily calculated along the contact angle, meaning the velocities of the objects can be calculated in one dimension by rotating the x and y axis to be parallel with the contact angle of the objects, and then rotated back to the original orientation to get the true x and y components of the velocities In an angle-free representation, the changed velocities are computed using the centers x1 and x2 at the time of contact as

alt text

where the angle brackets indicate the inner product (or dot product) of two vectors.

2D Elastic Collision Engine

2D elastic collision engine implemented in python. It contains two distinct methods (trigonometry and free angle representation). Both techniques have been tested and show exactly the same results.

The following classes can be easily implemented into a 2D game (top down or horizontal/vertical scrolling) to generate a real time elastic collision engine, or used for educational purpose.

Download the directory Assets and simulation.exe to see the demo (picture below) alt text

Angle free example

alt text

Trigonometry example

alt text

    • TRIGONOMETY : Timing result for 100000 iterations : 2.093596862793334s
    • ANGLE FREE : Timing result for 100000 iterations : 0.4719169265488081s

This code comes with a MIT license.

Copyright (c) 2018 Yoann Berenguer

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions: The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

Please acknowledge and give reference if using the source code for your project


You can’t perform that action at this time.