After GM announced its R2 space robot, how long could it be before the Blue Oval had something futuristic to show off? Ford recently introduced Santos, a new virtual-reality stress-testing digital man.
Santos, derived from the Department of Defense's Virtual Soldier Research program, is Ford's next stage of virtual work assistance. He works in a simulated Ford factory and measures the effects of real-world stress by combining a "complete biomechanical muscular system" with "predictive dynamics".
Ford ergonomics technical specialist Allison Stephens thankfully explains it in layman's terms:
"Creating the safest and most ergonomic way to build a vehicle is a trial-and-error process – in recent years technology has allowed this process to happen in the virtual world. Santos takes this to a new level. He can perform a task and tell us whether over months and years it will cause back strain, for example, and we can make adjustments until we find the optimal way to get the job done."
As soon as testing is complete, Santos will be put to work helping find new, helpful ways to keep people safe and healthy.
By Phil Alex