Name: James B.
I am developing a software package to analyse vehicle performance.
I have lateral and longitudenal g-force data for a vehicle as it
moves. I wish to plot the path of the vehicle given the data. My physics
is a little rusty! Can anyone help? The data I have is as follows:
time (s), Lateral G (G), Longitudenal G (G). The longitudenal G is either
positive indicating acceleration or negative indicating deceleration. The
lateral G data, however is negative for a left turn and positive for a
What are the equations I need?
What you have is the acceleration of the vehicle in units of 9.8m/s^2 or
32ft/s^2, depending on whether you want to use metric or English units.
Convert from g-factor to appropriate units. If you want to plot position vs
time, you will need two more pieces of imformation: initial position and
initial velocity. Since you are dealing with a three-dimensional system,
each of these requires 3 coordinates: initial (x,y,z) and initial
(Vx,Vy,Vz). There are several ways to add the effects of acceleration onto
current position and velocity. One of the easiest is to assume that
acceleration is constant over each individual time duration. Assume at t=0
the current velocity components and position components are the initial
values: t=0, x=x0, y=y0, z=z0, vx=vx0, vy=vy0, vz=vz0.
Let dt=new time minus current time, then change current time to new
Adding the z-axis is easy. You have the acceleration in the z-direction
new z = z + (vz)dt + (1/2)(az)(dt)^2
new vz = vz + (az)(dt)
(Order is important: do not change vz until new z has been
As for x and y coordinates, the lateral acceleration must first be separated
This depends on the horizontal direction. The horizontal vector indicating
direction of motion is (vx/v , vy/v), where v=sqrt(vx^2 + vy^2). Note: If
v=0, you will have to use the previous direction vector. The "lateral"
vector, perpendicular and to the right(positive) is
(vy/x , -vx/v). Multiply this by the lateral acceleration to get the
ax=(lat.acc.)(vy/v) , ay=(lat.acc)(-vx/v)
in proper units).
Calculate new position and velocity in both x and y directions as done for
Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Illinois Central College
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Update: June 2012