I'm currently working on implementing a very basic collision system in my game at the moment that only uses 3D AABBs. My AABB struct currently looks like this at the moment.

/// <summary>
/// This struct represents a 3-dimensional bounding box that is aligned
/// to the three world axes.
/// </summary>
public struct AxisAlignedBB
    public Vector3 Position { get; set; }
    public Vector3 HalfScale { get; set; }

    /// <summary>
    /// Constructor for the AxisAlignedBB struct.
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="position">The position of the AABB.</param>
    /// <param name="halfScale">The half scale of the AABB.</param>
    public AxisAlignedBB(Vector3 position, Vector3 halfScale)
        this.Position = position;
        this.HalfScale = halfScale;

I'm stuck on how the penetration depth between two different colliding AABBs with the AABB format I've laid out in the struct above is calculated. I've spent hours trying to come up with and look for a solution to this but I just can't seem to find anything.


Here is a method to find the penetration depth between two axis aligned bounding boxes at low velocities.

I've commented the code to explain how it works.

public static bool AABBAABB(AABB a, AABB b, ref Contact contact)
    // Minimum Translation Vector
    // ==========================
    float mtvDistance = float.MaxValue;             // Set current minimum distance (max float value so next value is always less)
    Vector3 mtvAxis = new Vector3();                // Axis along which to travel with the minimum distance

    // Axes of potential separation
    // ============================
    // - Each shape must be projected on these axes to test for intersection:
    // (1, 0, 0)                    A0 (= B0) [X Axis]
    // (0, 1, 0)                    A1 (= B1) [Y Axis]
    // (0, 0, 1)                    A1 (= B2) [Z Axis]

    // [X Axis]
    if (!TestAxisStatic(Vector3.UnitX, a.MinPoint.X, a.MaxPoint.X, b.MinPoint.X, b.MaxPoint.X, ref mtvAxis, ref mtvDistance))
        return false;

    // [Y Axis]
    if (!TestAxisStatic(Vector3.UnitY, a.MinPoint.Y, a.MaxPoint.Y, b.MinPoint.Y, b.MaxPoint.Y, ref mtvAxis, ref mtvDistance))
        return false;

    // [Z Axis]
    if (!TestAxisStatic(Vector3.UnitZ, a.MinPoint.Z, a.MaxPoint.Z, b.MinPoint.Z, b.MaxPoint.Z, ref mtvAxis, ref mtvDistance))
        return false;

    contact.isIntersecting = true;

    // Calculate Minimum Translation Vector (MTV) [normal * penetration]
    contact.nEnter = Vector3.Normalize(mtvAxis);

    // Multiply the penetration depth by itself plus a small increment
    // When the penetration is resolved using the MTV, it will no longer intersect
    contact.penetration = (float)Math.Sqrt(mtvDistance) * 1.001f;

    return true;

private static bool TestAxisStatic(Vector3 axis, float minA, float maxA, float minB, float maxB, ref Vector3 mtvAxis, ref float mtvDistance)
    // Separating Axis Theorem
    // =======================
    // - Two convex shapes only overlap if they overlap on all axes of separation
    // - In order to create accurate responses we need to find the collision vector (Minimum Translation Vector)   
    // - The collision vector is made from a vector and a scalar, 
    //   - The vector value is the axis associated with the smallest penetration
    //   - The scalar value is the smallest penetration value
    // - Find if the two boxes intersect along a single axis
    // - Compute the intersection interval for that axis
    // - Keep the smallest intersection/penetration value
    float axisLengthSquared = Vector3.Dot(axis, axis);

    // If the axis is degenerate then ignore
    if (axisLengthSquared < 1.0e-8f)
        return true;

    // Calculate the two possible overlap ranges
    // Either we overlap on the left or the right sides
    float d0 = (maxB - minA);   // 'Left' side
    float d1 = (maxA - minB);   // 'Right' side

    // Intervals do not overlap, so no intersection
    if (d0 <= 0.0f || d1 <= 0.0f)
        return false;

    // Find out if we overlap on the 'right' or 'left' of the object.
    float overlap = (d0 < d1) ? d0 : -d1;

    // The mtd vector for that axis
    Vector3 sep = axis * (overlap / axisLengthSquared);

    // The mtd vector length squared
    float sepLengthSquared = Vector3.Dot(sep, sep);

    // If that vector is smaller than our computed Minimum Translation Distance use that vector as our current MTV distance
    if (sepLengthSquared < mtvDistance)
        mtvDistance = sepLengthSquared;
        mtvAxis = sep;

    return true;
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you please explain why it will not work with the AABB format you've laid out? You can find the MinPoint and MaxPoint using Position - HalfScale and Position + HalfScale. If SAT seems unnecessary then you should be more clear about what you would like. GJK perhaps? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4 '16 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I see how I can use my format. Sorry about that. I do still feel SAT is unnecessary for simple AABB-AABB collision though. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4 '16 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, so this method works quite well, with no major issues, however, I still feel like SAT is unnecessary for simple AABB-AABB collision. Isn't there an AABB-AABB specific collision detection and resolution method? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4 '16 at 21:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not that I know of. However, here are some books that I would recommend you read: [Real-time Collision Detection][1] and [Geometric Tools for Computer Graphics][2]. If you wish to see what is used in a real-time 3D physics engine for collision detection and response then I would highly recommend taking a look at the [BEPU source code][3]. It is written in C# and fairly easy to follow. [1]: realtimecollisiondetection.net [2]: geometrictools.com/Books/GeometricTools/AboutTheBook.html [3]: bepuphysics.codeplex.com/SourceControl/latest \$\endgroup\$ Sep 5 '16 at 7:42

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