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Frame Rotations

Euler Angle

Euler Angles**
For general applications in 3D, often need to perform 3 separate
rotations to relate our inertial frame to our body frame
Especially true for aircraft problems

There are many ways to do this set of rotations with the variations be
based on the order of the rotations
All would be acceptable
Some are more commonly used than others

Standard: start with the body frame (x,y,z) aligned with the inertial
(X,Y,Z), and then perform 3 rotations to reorient the body frame.

** R. C. Nelson. Flight Stability and Automatic Control, 2nd Edition. McGraw--Hill, 1998.
Euler Angles

o Rotate by about Z x, y, z .

o Rotate by about y x, y, z.

o Rotate by about x x, y, z .


Euler Angles

Let us write these rotations in a convenient form:

x c s 0 X X
y s c 0 Y T ( ) Y
z 0 0 1 Z Z

x c 0 s X x
y 0 1 0 Y T ( ) y
z s 0 c Z z

x 1 0 0 x x
y 0 c s y T ( ) y
z 0 s c z z
Euler Angles
When combined together produce the following rotation:

x X
y T ( )T ( )T ( ) Y
1 2 3
z Z
cc cs s X
cs ssc cc sss sc Y
ss csc sc css cc Z

Note that the order that these rotations are applied matters
and will greatly change the answer matrix multiplies of Ti
must be done consistently.
Euler Angles
In order to get the angular velocity in this case, we have to include the
following three terms:

1. about the Z axis.

2. about the y axis.
3. about the x axis.

Which when conveniently combined vectorially to give as in:

( i j k )

Now, we can formulate in terms of its components in final frame
(body) using the rotation matrices for this purpose
Euler Angles
An example: Rotate about Z z .
In terms of X, Y, Z, frame rotation rate has components 0 which is the same
as in x, y, z frame.

In order to transform a vector from x, y, z to x, y, z, need to use T1 () T2()


Similar operation for about y y use T1() on
With the final result given as:

x 0 0

b y T1 ( )T2 ( ) 0 T1 ( ) 0
z 0
Euler Angles

o By simple visualization, we can write:

But , , do not form a mutual
orthogonal triad .

o Need to form the orthogonal

proportions onto the body frame
x, y, z.
x 0 0

b y T1 ( )T2 ( ) 0 T1 ( ) 0
z 0
Euler Angles

o The final forms of the components are:

x sin
cos cos sin

z sin cos cos

o With the inverse of these being:

x y sin z cos tan
cos sin
y z

y sin z cos sec

Euler Angles

oWe need to watch for singularities at ||= 90 by limiting:

0 2

2 2
0 2

It is then any possible orientation of the body can be obtained by performing

the appropriate rotations in the order given.

These then completes the formulation of a pretty standard set of the Euler
Euler Angles

Theorem by Euler states that any given sequence of rotations can be

represented as a single rotation about a single fixed axis.

Quaterions provide a convenient parameterization of this effective axis

and the rotation angle .
b E sin
b 2
cos 2
E is a unit vector and is a positive rotation about
E .

b 1 and thus there are only 3 degrees of freedom in this

formulation as well

If b represents the rotational transformation from the reference frame a

to reference frame b, the frame a is aligned with frame b when frame a is
rotated by radians about E .

In terms of Euler angle,

sin 2(b2b4 b1b3 )
tan 1 2(b2b3 b1b4 ),1 2(b12 b22 )
tan 1 2(b1b2 b3b4 ),1 2(b22 b32 )

Singularity free; Computationally efficient to do state

propagation in time compared to Euler Angles


Far less intuitive less appealing

Refs: Kuipers, Quaternions and rotation sequences, 1999

Princeton University Press.