Departmental Papers (MEAM)

Document Type

Journal Article

Subject Area


Date of this Version

January 2002


Reprinted from Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part C: Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science, Volume 216, Number 1, 2002, pages 47-60.
Publisher URL:


Previous approaches to trajectory generation for rigid bodies have been either based on the so-called invariant screw motions or on ad hoc decompositions into rotations and translations. This paper formulates the trajectory generation problem in the framework of Lie groups and Riemannian geometry. The goal is to determine optimal curves joining given points with appropriate boundary conditions on the Euclidean group. Since this results in a two-point boundary value problem that has to be solved iteratively, a computationally efficient, analytical method that generates near-optimal trajectories is derived. The method consists of two steps. The first step involves generating the optimal trajectory in an ambient space, while the second step is used to project this trajectory onto the Euclidean group. The paper describes the method, its applications and its performance in terms of optimality and efficiency.


interpolation, lie groups, invariance, optimality



Date Posted: 30 May 2008