Deakin researchers have been rewarded for high-tech innovation in automotive design.
A system that uses digital mannequins and computer-generated vehicles to assess the comfort of drivers has been awarded the 2016 Society of Automotive Engineers (Australasia) Mobility Engineering Excellence Gold Award.
The award was presented at the Melbourne Arts Centre on 17 November to a team from Deakin University’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI), Excellerate Australia (AutoCRC), and their collaborators from GM Holden.
It was one of four Gold Awards for Engineering Excellence, covering Automotive; Rail; Caravan and Camper; and Manufacturing/Non-OE categories.
The award-winning Ingress/Egress Assessment Tool for automotive design is now being used by Holden to evaluate automotive designs prior to production.
“The tool is the result of a major team effort from IISRI and a team of industry champions at Holden, particularly Gary Carroll and John Kosowski,” said IISRI Director Professor Saeid Nahavandi.
The team worked on the tool for over 12 months, bringing together skills in motion capture, advanced modelling, software development and signal processing.
Using motion capture obtained from sensors on the arms and shoulders of people and analysed by signal processing techniques, to form the original baseline data, the system allows automotive designers to assess the degree of discomfort drivers experience getting into and out of a vehicle without the need to build any actual mock-ups.
The initial 12-month project has recently been extended to develop a system to analyse the comfort of front and back seat passengers moving in and out of vehicles.
The initial project focussed on four different vehicle types: a small hatch-back, two types of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and a luxury sedan.
"The project accelerates the design-testing loop for producing beautiful vehicles, while maintaining the highest standards of comfortable vehicle access,” said Project Manager Dr Mohammed Hossny.
Dr Hossny explained that there is often a trade-off to be considered between the aesthetic requirements of automotive design and ergonomics.
“The conventional process for assessing the comfort of drivers getting into and out of different cars is to develop a design, build a large mock-up, gain the opinions of many people and then report this feedback to the design team,” Dr Hossny said.
“Our system allows the entire process to be completed through a computer model with digital mannequins. It can pinpoint the ‘sweet spot’ between creative design and ergonomics.
Professor Nahavandi added that the technology has many other potential applications, such as in the design of trains, aircraft, buses and ambulances, or industries such as construction or infrastructure.
IISRI researchers involved in the project were: Professor Saeid Nahavandi, Associate Professor Douglas Creighton, Dr Mohammed Hossny, Dr Asim Bhatti, Dr Imali Hettiarachchi, Dr Lei Wei, Mr Darius Nahavandi and Dr Shady Mohamed.
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Director of IISRI, Professor Saeid Nahavandi.