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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 12, 2007

VSR Program Schedules Free, Public Lecture Jan. 24 On Virtual Humans

The most advanced human simulation system of its kind will be on display when the University of Iowa Virtual Soldier Research (VSR) program presents its first public lecture at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24, in Shambaugh Auditorium of the UI Main Library.

The free, public lecture will showcase VSR research developments and achievements that have earned it national and international recognition. Located at the UI College of Engineering Center for Computer Aided Design (CCAD), VSR conducts research aimed at creating human-like figures in physics-based environments that are interactive and intelligent. The computer-simulated humans can execute a wide variety of tasks aimed at testing and evaluating various vehicles, clothing and other items.

The lecture will highlight such areas as predictive dynamics, hand modeling, posture and motion prediction, and muscle and physiology modeling.

The lecture will also demonstrate and explain the use of computer-simulated humans in the automotive, earth-moving equipment, military, ergonomics, and safety fields. It will also detail research progress being made in: adapting game technology for scientific use, modeling 3D humans, charting real-time interactive human anatomy, predicting realistic human postures and using virtual reality in engineering. The talk will also discuss the physics of predicting dynamic motion, the ergonomic advantage of using human models and ways in which researchers can partner with and aid the VSR program.

Key to the program is its digital human called Santos™, who possesses accurate biomechanical and physiological characteristics, enabling him to predict motion and execute tasks unaided. The VSR program and Santos are designed to save time and money by reducing the need to build physical prototypes in the testing and evaluation of products, equipment, vehicles, and armaments prior to manufacture.

"Santos can model clothing, muscles and human performance measures such as energy and fatigue, it can predict natural motions in an autonomous manner because Santos has a 'brain,'" CCAD director Karim Abdel-Malek says. "The VSR team has also recently partnered with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Department of Neurology to add emotion-based decision-making to Santos's behavior capabilities. Santos currently is capable of answering questions such as: 'What is your fatigue level?' and 'Can you operate this machine?'"

Barely three years old, VSR has received a total of more than $11 million in U.S. Army and private industry funding to use state-of-the-art gaming and entertainment animation techniques to simulate real soldiers. The VSR team is not only nationally renowned, but it is also the largest multidisciplinary group of its kind in the nation conducting research on human modeling and simulation, thanks to its 35 researchers from diverse backgrounds. The multidisciplinary team has international experts in biomechanics, optimization, dynamics, haptics, psychology, neurology, and engineering and includes professional staff, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students.

Abdel-Malek says that while the VSR program has focused on serving the military's needs, it will increasingly begin to benefit the commercial sector by designing safer, more ergonomic products for the consumer.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: VSR program: Deborah Hampton, CCAD Research, 319-335-5722,; UI News Services writer: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,