Fast and robust retrieval of Minkowski sums of rotating convex polyhedra in 3-space

Naama Mayer, Efi Fogel, Dan Halperin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a novel method for fast retrieval of exact Minkowski sums of pairs of convex polytopes in R3, where one of the polytopes frequently rotates. The algorithm is based on pre-computing a so-called criticality map, which records the changes in the underlying graph structure of the Minkowski sum of the two polytopes, while one of them rotates. We give tight combinatorial bounds on the complexity of the criticality map when the rotating polytope rotates about one, two, or three axes. The criticality map can be rather large already for rotations about one axis, even for summand polytopes with a moderate number of vertices each. We therefore focus on the restricted case of rotations about a single, though arbitrary, axis. Our work targets applications that require exact collision detection such as motion planning with narrow corridors and assembly maintenance where high accuracy is required. Our implementation handles all degeneracies and produces exact results. It efficiently handles the algebra of exact rotations about an arbitrary axis in R3, and it well balances between preprocessing time and space on the one hand, and query time on the other. We use Cgal arrangements and in particular the support for spherical Gaussian maps to efficiently compute the exact Minkowski sum of two polytopes. We conducted several experiments (i) to verify the correctness of the algorithm and its implementation, and (ii) to compare its efficiency with an alternative (static) exact method. The results are reported.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1258-1269
Number of pages12
JournalCAD Computer Aided Design
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Collision detection
  • Convex polytopes
  • Minkowski sums
  • Robust geometric computing


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