Abstract : Virtual Reality (VR) applications are employed in engineering situation to simulate real and artificial situations where the user can interact with 3D models in real time. Within these
applications the virtual environment must emulate real world physics such that the system behaviour and interaction are as natural as possible and to support realistic manufacturing applications. As a consequence of this focus, several simulation engines have been
developed for various digital applications, including VR, to compute the physical response and body dynamics of objects. However, the performance of these physics engines within haptic-enabled VR applications varies considerably. In this study two third party physics engines - Bullet and PhysXtm- are evaluated to establish their appropriateness for haptic virtual assembly applications. With this objective in mind five assembly tasks were created with increasing assembly and geometry complexity. Each of these was carried out using the two different physics engines which had been implemented in a haptic-enabled virtual assembly platform specifically developed for this purpose. Several physics-performance parameters were also defined to aid the comparison. This approach and the subsequent results successfully demonstrated the key strengths, limitations, and weaknesses of the physics engines in haptic virtual assembly environments.