Numerical simulation of a floater in ice-infested waters can be performed using a physics engine. This software can dynamically detect contacts and calculate the contact forces in a three-dimensional space among various irregularly shaped bodies, e.g. the floater and the ice floes. Previously, various physics engines were successfully applied to simulate floaters in ice. However, limited attention was paid to the criteria for selecting a particular engine for the simulation of a floater in broken-ice conditions.
In this paper, four publicly available physics engines (AgX Multiphysics, Open Dynamics Engine, PhysX and Vortex) are compared in terms of integration performance and contact detection accuracy. These two aspects are assumed to be the most important for simulating a floater in broken ice. Furthermore, the access to code, documentation quality and the level of technical support are evaluated and discussed. The main conclusion is that each physics engine has its own strength and weaknesses and none of the engines is perfect. These strength and weaknesses are revealed and discussed in the paper.