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A novel kinematics analysis method using quaternion interpolation – a case study in frog jumping

Richards, C T; Porro, L B


C T Richards

L B Porro


Spherical Linear Interpolation (SLERP) has long been used in computer animation to interpolate movements between two 3D orientations. We developed a forward kinematics (FK) approach using quaternions and SLERP to predict how frogs modulate jump kinematics between start posture and takeoff. Frog limb kinematics have been studied during various activities, yet the causal link between differences in joint kinematics and locomotor variation remains unknown. We varied 1) takeoff angle from 8 to 60 degrees; 2) turn angle from 0 to 18 degrees; and 3) initial body pitch from 0 to 70 degrees. Simulations were similar to experimentally observed frog kinematics. Findings suggest a fundamental mechanism whereby limb elevation is modulated by thigh and shank adduction. Forward thrust is produced by thigh and proximal foot retraction with little contribution from the shank except to induce asymmetries for turning. Kinematic shifts causing turns were subtle, marked only by slight counter-rotation of the left versus right shank as well as a 10% timing offset in proximal foot adduction. Additionally, inclining initial body tilt influenced the centre of mass trajectory to determine direction of travel at takeoff. Most importantly, our theory suggests firstly that the convergence of leg segment rotation axes toward a common orientation is crucial both for limb extension and for coordinating jump direction; and, secondly, the challenge of simulating 3D kinematics is simplified using SLERP because frog limbs approximately follow linear paths in unit quaternion space. Our methodology can be applied more broadly to study living and fossil frog taxa as well as to inspire new control algorithms for robotic limbs.


Richards, C. T., & Porro, L. B. (2018). A novel kinematics analysis method using quaternion interpolation – a case study in frog jumping. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 454, 410-424.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 6, 2018
Publication Date Jun 18, 2018
Deposit Date Jun 30, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jul 1, 2019
Print ISSN 0022-5193
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 454
Pages 410-424
Public URL