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Vehicle Ergonomics Laboratories

The Biosciences Group conducts research on vehicle interior ergonomics, focusing on the physical interaction between occupants and vehicles. The research is conducted in vehicles driven on-road as well as in several laboratories at UMTRI. Data on occupant posture and body dimensions is gathered using portable coordinate measurement equipment (FARO Technologies) and optical motion capture equipment (Vicon). The results of studies in dozens of vehicles and laboratory conditions have been used to develop new vehicle interior-design practices for both cars and trucks.

Various anthropometric measurement facilities are available to collect standardized body measurements, as well as measurements that describe the posture, position, and movement of motor-vehicle occupants seated in test vehicles or laboratory mockups of vehicle interiors. These include standard anthropometers and calipers for manual measurement of body segment lengths, breadths, and depths, as well as several FARO arms, the current state-of-the-art system for digitizing three-dimensional coordinates of body landmarks. Our newest facility is a three-dimensional laser scanner that can measure the external contour of an occupant or object in 12 seconds.

Several automotive seating bucks allow simulating a wide range of vehicle interior package geometries for use in studying driver positioning and vehicle-seated anthropometry, belt fit, optimal design, placement, and adjustment features of primary driver controls, and occupant short- and long-term comfort in relationship to vehicle seat factors. These test facilities permit quickly interchanging and/or adjusting the positions and orientations of vehicle components, such as seats, steering wheels, pedals, gear shifters, roof liners, windshields, armrests, belt anchorages, and driver-side doors, depending on the needs of a particular study. UMTRI also has a seating buck to simulate heavy-truck cab geometry.

Portable FARO arm data-acquisition systems are incorporated into each seating buck as needed to collect three-dimensional anthropometry and body landmark positions and movement data of seated drivers. An XSENSOR pressure distribution measurement system is available for documenting occupant seat and seatback interaction. A 13-camera Vicon Peak Motus motion capture system has been installed in one of the vehicle seating laboratories. This system allows three-dimensional analysis of motion for typical occupant tasks, such as ingress-egress or belt-donning behaviors. The latest iQ software from Vicon Peak Motus is used to process collected data.

UMTRI is also equipped to perform in-vehicle ergonomic tests. Driver posture and position can be recorded by documenting the locations of body landmarks using a FARO arm. In typical testing, a volunteer drives the test vehicle over a specified road route, while stopping as needed to adjust vehicle components. Upon returning the vehicle to UMTRI, the subject's preferred driving or riding posture and position are recorded using the FARO arm measurement equipment. Typically, subjective preference information concerning the controls, seats, and interior components is also collected after the drive. The large indoor measuring areas allow full-scale vehicle testing with on-road driving to be conducted throughout the year. Recent studies conducted in vehicles with on-road driving include studies of driver-selected seat position, driver eye position, and front-seat passenger posture.

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