There are several engineering applications in which nominally rigid objects are subject to multiple frictional contacts with other objects. In most previous work, rigid body models have been used to analyze such systems. There are two fundamental problems with such an approach. First, the use of frictional laws, such as Coulomb’s law, introduces inconsistencies and ambiguities when used in conjunction with the principles of rigid body dynamics. Second, hypotheses traditionally used to model frictional impacts can lead to solutions which violate principles of energy conservation. In this paper these problems are explained with the help of examples. A new approach to the simulation of mechanical systems with multiple, frictional constraints is proposed that is free of inconsistencies.

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