Virtual vehicle vibrations

Computer models show postures of a tractor's operator in a field experimental study funded by the Injury Prevention Research Center. Credit: John Meusch.

"Sit up straight in your chair!" That command given by countless parents to their children may one day be delivered by vehicle designers to a robot that is actually a computerized model of a long-distance truck driver or other heavy equipment operator, thanks to a University of Iowa research program.

That's because a UI researcher has designed a computer program that allows engineers to accurately predict the role posture plays in transferring the stress of vehicle motion to bone and muscle in the head and neck.

Titled "Human head-neck models in whole-body vibration: Effect of posture," the paper is published in the online Jan. 3 issue of the Journal of Biomechanics.

Lead author Salam Rahmatalla, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and research engineer at the Virtual Soldier Research (VSR) Program, a part of the College of Engineering's Center for Computer-Aided Design (CCAD), says that a is needed.

"Studies have shown that awkward head-neck postures inside whole-body vibration environments can increase discomfort and the risk of injury," he says. "The goal of this project is to introduce a computerized that can be used to predict human motion in response to whole-body vibration when the human takes different head-neck postures."

He notes that the predicted motion data of his current model can be used to drive more sophisticated computer human models—with muscles and —that can predict muscle forces and internal strain and stress between tissues and vertebrae.

Significantly, the computer program may reduce the need for actual human subjects to drive test vehicles.

"One major benefit of the current computer human model is the possibility of using it instead of humans in the design/modification loop of equipment in whole-body vibration," he says.

Rahmatalla says a wide variety of industry, university, and other researcher venues likely will learn from his work.

"The automotive industry, and manufacturers of heavy machinery including construction, agriculture, mining, and military vehicles can benefit from the application of this model to the design of their equipment," he says.

"Also, human factors researchers and ergonomists can use this model to investigate the effect of head-neck posture on human response, performance, human machine interaction, and injury risk in whole-body vibration."

Rahmatalla's long-term VSR objective is to develop a virtual human capable of reproducing complex human responses to a environment that will help answer questions related to potential injury risks and design modifications.

Rahmatalla conducted the study by having 11 male participants sit in a vehicle simulator where they were subjected to white-noise random vibration and the acceleration data of the head and neck for each was recorded. The recorded motion data was used to calibrate the computer .

His colleague in the study was Yang Wang, a student in the UI Graduate College and CCAD graduate research assistant.

Related Stories

Study simulated car crashes involving pregnant women

Dec 02, 2009

Although states are not required to report fetal deaths in accident data, between 300 and 1,000 unborn babies die in car accidents each year. This accident fatality rate is about four times the rate for victims ...

It's a shocker for rockers

Dec 18, 2008

Head banging increases the risk of head and neck injury, but the effects may be lessened with reduced head and neck motion, head banging to lower tempo songs or to every second beat, and using protective equipment such as ...

Engineers to create parts of virtual crash test dummy

Dec 11, 2008

You really can learn a lot from a dummy. For decades, automakers have been crashing test dummies to gain insight to how various auto safety systems protect – or fail to protect – people during car accidents. But those ...

Computer model improves ultrasound image

Nov 04, 2008

Doctors use diagnostic sonography or ultrasound to visualise organs and other internal structures of the human body. Dutch researcher Koos Huijssen has developed a computer model that can predict the sound transmission of ...

Recommended for you

Gene test aids cancer profile

5 hours ago

The first round of chemotherapy did little to suppress Ron Bose's leukemia. The second round, with 10 times the dose, knocked the proliferating blast cells down, but only by half.

How a common antacid could lead to cheaper anti-cancer drugs

23 hours ago

A popular indigestion medication can increase survival in colorectal cancer, according to research published in ecancermedicalscience. But in fact, scientists have studied this for years - and a group of cancer advocates want t ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.