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Technical Paper

Characterizing Vehicle Occupant Body Dimensions and Postures Using a Statistical Body Shape Model

Reliable, accurate data on vehicle occupant characteristics could be used to personalize the occupant experience, potentially improving both satisfaction and safety. Recent improvements in 3D camera technology and increased use of cameras in vehicles offer the capability to effectively capture data on vehicle occupant characteristics, including size, shape, posture, and position. In previous work, the body dimensions of standing individuals were reliably estimated by fitting a statistical body shape model (SBSM) to data from a consumer-grade depth camera (Microsoft Kinect). In the current study, the methodology was extended to consider seated vehicle occupants. The SBSM used in this work was developed using laser scan data gathered from 147 children with stature ranging from 100 to 160 cm and BMI from 12 to 27 kg/m2 in various sitting postures.
Technical Paper

Development, Evaluation, and Sensitivity Analysis of Parametric Finite Element Whole-Body Human Models in Side Impacts

Occupant stature and body shape may have significant effects on injury risks in motor vehicle crashes, but the current finite element (FE) human body models (HBMs) only represent occupants with a few sizes and shapes. Our recent studies have demonstrated that, by using a mesh morphing method, parametric FE HBMs can be rapidly developed for representing a diverse population. However, the biofidelity of those models across a wide range of human attributes has not been established. Therefore, the objectives of this study are 1) to evaluate the accuracy of HBMs considering subject-specific geometry information, and 2) to apply the parametric HBMs in a sensitivity analysis for identifying the specific parameters affecting body responses in side impact conditions. Four side-impact tests with two male post-mortem human subjects (PMHSs) were selected to evaluate the accuracy of the geometry and impact responses of the morphed HBMs.
Journal Article

Driver Preference for Fore-Aft Steering Wheel Location

The fore-aft location of the steering wheel relative to the pedals is a critical determinant of driving posture and comfort. Current SAE practices lack quantitative guidance on steering wheel positioning. This paper presents a model of subjective preference for fore-aft steering wheel position across a range of seat heights. Sixty-eight men and women evaluated the steering wheel positions in a total of 9 package conditions differentiated by seat height and fore-aft steering wheel position. Numerical responses were given on a 7-point scale anchored with the words “Too Close”, “Just Right”, and “Too Far”. A statistical analysis of the results demonstrated that the preferred fore-aft steering wheel position was affected by seat height and driver stature. An ordinal logistic regression model was created that predicts the distribution of subjective responses to steering wheel location. The model can be used to calculate the preferred steering wheel position for individuals or populations.
Journal Article

Development of a Methodology for Simulating Seat Back Interaction Using Realistic Body Contours

Seat comfort is driven in part by the fit between the sitter and seat. Traditional anthropometric data provide little information about the size and shape of the torso that can be used for backrest design. This study introduces a methodology for using three-dimensional computer models of the human torso based on a statistical analysis of body shapes for conducting automated fit assessments. Surface scan data from 296 men and 417 women in a seated posture were analyzed to create a body shape model that can be adjusted to a range of statures, body shape, and postures spanning those typical of vehicle occupants. Finite-element models of two auto seat surface were created, along with custom software that generates body models and postures them in the seat. A simple simulation technique was developed to rapidly assess the fit of the torso relative to the seat back.
Technical Paper

Predicting Force-Exertion Postures from Task Variables

Accurate representation of working postures is critical for ergonomic assessments with digital human models because posture has a dominant effect on analysis outcomes. Most current digital human modeling tools require manual manipulation of the digital human to simulate force-exertion postures or rely on optimization procedures that have not been validated. Automated posture prediction based on human data would improve the accuracy and repeatability of analyses. The effects of hand force location, magnitude, and direction on whole-body posture for standing tasks were quantified in a motion-capture study of 20 men and women with widely varying body size. A statistical analysis demonstrated that postural variables critical for the assessment of body loads can be predicted from the characteristics of the worker and task.
Technical Paper

Standing Reach Envelopes Incorporating Anthropometric Variance and Postural Cost

Standing reach envelopes are important tools for the design of industrial and vehicle environments. Previous work in this area has focussed on manikin-based (where a few manikins are used to simulate individuals reaching within the region of interest) and population-based (where data are gathered on many individuals reaching in a constrained environment) approaches. Each of these methods has merits and shortfalls. The current work bridges the manikin- and population-based approaches to assessing reach by creating population models using kinematic simulation techniques driven by anthropometric data. The approach takes into account body dimensions, balance, and postural cost to create continuous models that can be used to assess designs with respect to both maximal and submaximal reaches. Cost is quantified as the degree to which the torso is involved in the reach, since the inclination of the torso is a good measure of lower-back load and may be related to subjective reach difficulty.
Technical Paper

Optimizing Vehicle Occupant Packaging

Occupant packaging practice relies on statistical models codified in SAE practices, such as the SAE J941 eyellipse, and virtual human figure models representing individual occupants. The current packaging approach provides good solutions when the problem is relatively unconstrained, but achieving good results when many constraints are active, such as restricted headroom and sightlines, requires a more rigorous approach. Modeling driver needs using continuous models that retain the residual variance associated with performance and preference allows use of optimization methodologies developed for robust design. Together, these models and methods facilitate the consideration of multiple factors simultaneously and tradeoff studies can be performed. A case study involving the layout of the interior of a passenger car is presented, focusing on simultaneous placement of the seat and steering wheel adjustment ranges.
Technical Paper

Assessing the Validity of Kinematically Generated Reach Envelopes for Simulations of Vehicle Operators

Assessments of reach capability using human figure models are commonly performed by exercising each joint of a kinematic chain, terminating in the hand, through the associated ranges of motion. The result is a reach envelope determined entirely by the segment lengths, joint degrees of freedom, and joint ranges of motion. In this paper, the validity of this approach is assessed by comparing the reach envelopes obtained by this method to those obtained in a laboratory study of men and women. Figures were created in the Jack human modeling software to represent the kinematic linkages of participants in the laboratory study. Maximum reach was predicted using the software's kinematic reach-envelope generation methods and by interactive manipulation. Predictions were compared to maximum reach envelopes obtained experimentally. The findings indicate that several changes to the normal procedures for obtaining maximum reach envelopes for seated tasks are needed.
Technical Paper

A Pilot Study of the Effects of Vertical Ride Motion on Reach Kinematics

Vehicle motions can adversely affect the ability of a driver or occupant to quickly and accurately push control buttons located in many advanced vehicle control, navigation and communications systems. A pilot study was conducted using the U.S. Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Ride Motion Simulator (RMS) to assess the effects of vertical ride motion on the kinematics of reaching. The RMS was programmed to produce 0.5 g and 0.8 g peak-to-peak sinusoidal inputs at the seat-sitter interface over a range of frequencies. Two participants performed seated reaching tasks to locations typical of in-vehicle controls under static conditions and with single-frequency inputs between 0 and 10 Hz. The participants also held terminal reach postures during 0.5 to 32 Hz sine sweeps. Reach kinematics were recorded using a 10-camera VICON motion capture system. The effects of vertical ride motion on movement time, accuracy, and subjective responses were assessed.
Technical Paper

Investigating Driver Headroom Perception: Methods and Models

Recent changes in impact protection requirements have led to increased padding on vehicle interior surfaces. In the areas near the driver's head, thicker padding can reduce the available headspace and may degrade the driver's perception of headroom. A laboratory study of driver headroom perception was conducted to investigate the effects of physical headroom on the subjective evaluation of headroom. Ninety-nine men and women rated a range of headroom conditions in a reconfigurable vehicle mockup. Unexpectedly, driver stature was not closely related to the perception of headroom. Short-statured drivers were as likely as tall drivers to rate a low roof condition as unacceptable. Statistical models were developed from the data to predict the effects of changes in headroom on the percentage of drivers rating the head-room at a specified criterion level.
Technical Paper

New Concepts in Vehicle Interior Design Using ASPECT

The ASPECT (Automotive Seat and Package Evaluation and Comparison Tools) program developed a new physical manikin for seat measurement and new techniques for integrating the seat measurements into the vehicle design process. This paper presents an overview of new concepts in vehicle interior design that have resulted from the ASPECT program and other studies of vehicle occupant posture and position conducted at UMTRI. The new methods result from an integration of revised versions of the SAE seat position and eyellipse models with the new tools developed in ASPECT. Measures of seat and vehicle interior geometry are input to statistical posture and position prediction tools that can be applied to any specified user population or individual occupant anthropometry.
Technical Paper

Methods for Laboratory Investigation of Airbag-Induced Thermal Skin Burns

Two new techniques for investigating the thermal skin-burn potential of airbags are presented. A reduced-volume airbag test procedure has been developed to obtain airbag pressures that are representative of a dynamic ridedown event during a static deployment. Temperature and heat flux measurements made with this procedure can be used to predict airbag thermal burn potential. Measurements from the reduced-volume procedure are complemented by data obtained using two gas-jet simulators, called heatguns. Gas is vented in controlled bursts from a large, heated, pressurized tank of gas onto a target surface. Heat flux measurements on the target surface have been used to develop quantitative models of the relationships between gas jet characteristics and burn potential.
Technical Paper

Development of an Improved Driver Eye Position Model

SAE Recommended Practice J941 describes the eyellipse, a statistical representation of driver eye locations, that is used to facilitate design decisions regarding vehicle interiors, including the display locations, mirror placement, and headspace requirements. Eye-position data collected recently at University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) suggest that the SAE J941 practice could be improved. SAE J941 currently uses the SgRP location, seat-track travel (L23), and design seatback angle (L40) as inputs to the eyellipse model. However, UMTRI data show that the characteristics of empirical eyellipses can be predicted more accurately using seat height, steering-wheel position, and seat-track rise. A series of UMTRI studies collected eye-location data from groups of 50 to 120 drivers with statures spanning over 97 percent of the U.S. population. Data were collected in thirty-three vehicles that represent a wide range of vehicle geometry.
Technical Paper

Facial, Periorbital and Ocular Injuries Related to Steering-Wheel Airbag Deployments

To determine the frequency of facial injuries from steering-wheel airbag deployments, 540 consecutive steering-wheel airbag deployments, investigated by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) personnel, were reviewed. About 1 in 3 drivers sustain an injury to the face. Injuries to the area surrounding the eye (periorbital) or to the eyeball (ocular) rarely occur. The frequencies of facial or ocular injuries are the same for belted and unbelted drivers. Drivers of short stature had a higher frequency of facial injury. Females sustained ocular injuries more frequently than males. Untethered airbags were not overly involved in drivers with an ocular injury. No specific make or model car were overly represented in the ocular injury cases.
Technical Paper

Some Effects of Lumbar Support Contour on Driver Seated Posture

An appropriately contoured lumbar support is widely regarded as an essential component of a comfortable auto seat. A frequently stated objective for a lumbar support is to maintain the sitter's lumbar spine in a slightly extended, or lordotic, posture. Although sitters have been observed to sit with substantial lordosis in some short-duration testing, long-term postural interaction with a lumbar support has not been documented quantitatively in the automotive environment. A laboratory study was conducted to investigate driver posture with three seatback contours. Subjects† from four anthropometric groups operated an interactive laboratory driving simulator for one-hour trials. Posture data were collected by means of a sonic digitizing system. The data identify driver-selected postures over time for three lumbar support contours. An increase of 25 mm in the lumbar support prominence from a flat contour did not substantially change lumbar spine posture.
Technical Paper

An Investigation of Driver Discomfort and Related Seat Design Factors in Extended-Duration Driving

A study of automotive seating comfort and related design factors was conducted, utilizing subjective techniques of seat comfort assessment and objective measures of the seat/subject interaction. Eight male subjects evaluated four different test seats during a short-term seating session and throughout a three-hour driving simulation. For the latter, subjects operated a static laboratory driving simulator, performing body-area discomfort evaluations at thirty-minute intervals. Cross-modality matching (CMM), a subjective assessment technique in which a stimulus is rated by matching to the level of another stimulus, was used during the long-term driving simulation to evaluate discomfort. Subject posture, muscle activity in the lower back and abdomen, and pressure levels at key support locations on the seat were monitored. In addition, a sonic digitizing system was used to record seat indentation contours and to characterize the subjects' spinal contours.