For a growing number of organizations, human modeling and simulation software has become an important tool for designing products, processes, and workplaces that are more attuned to the needs of people. The U.S Army, however, is out on point in this area, largely because its people may have the most hazardous workplaces conceivable.
"We've been exploring ways to factor the needs of people into our design process for more than 15 years," says John Lockett, director of the Human Engineering Analysis Tools (HEAT) project at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Human Research and Engineering Directorate, Aberdeen, MD. "We used to use 3-D acetate templates of human figures in various poses. The best we could do was to produce a paper blueprint to the same scale as the template poses."
Not necessarily the best way to determine if a crewperson can reach a tank control panel--or bail out through an escape hatch. In response, the lab acquired a human-factors modeling package developed at the University of Pennsylvania and marketed by Transom Technologies Inc. The software, Transom Jack, accurately depicts the dimensions and range of motions of human beings of all shapes and sizes. Like a virtual G.I. Joe, Transom Jack can be placed in all manner of poses and situations. HEAT places Jack representations of soldiers into solid CAD models of armored fighting vehicles.
The lab currently has five seats of Jack running on various SGI workstations. Lockett's team works with several contractors, including General Dynamics and FMC, trying to insert human factors concerns into the development of army equipment and vehicles. "It's absolutely critical that we're working with models that reflect the physical characteristics of our soldiers," Lockett explains. "Jack allows us to define figures with detailed anthropotetric data."
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.