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Test Lab Seeks Better Soldier Safety

March 14, 2017
An advanced blast and crash dummy is providing insights into how to make vehicles and equipment safer for soldiers.

A company known for its research on crash and blast effects on soldiers has opened a new test laboratory within its Seal Beach, Calif., headquarters, devoted to improving vehicle designs for enhanced soldier protection. The new WIAMan ATD Lab supports the work of DTS on the design, development, and testing of the blast dummy known as the Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin (WIAMan). The new 3,000 sq.-ft. facility will use the WIAman to study the effects of underbody blasts, from weapons such as improved explosive devices (IEDs), to develop better means of protection and safer military vehicles.

The test facility includes an 11-ft. drop tower used to simulate the vertical impact experienced by an occupant in a vehicle blast. The WIAMan test dummy is secured in a seat in the drop tower while pulses with 200 g’s of force simulate blast impacts. Five different load paths through the pelvis and femur of the crash dummy are measured to quantify potential spine and lower extremity injuries. The drop tower is capable of accelerating a 20-kg impact mass to a velocity of 20 m/s, and high-speed cameras are used to capture motion at 100,000 frames/s.

DTS and U.S. Army staff stand in front of the WIAMan crash test dummy during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the opening of the new WIAMan ATD laboratory. (Courtesy of DTS)

The WIAMan uses 146 channels of embedded data acquisition and sensors to measure potential skeletal injuries, although it can support as many as 180 channels. The data-acquisition subsystems are distributed throughout the manikin. The data includes six deg. of freedom of forces, moments, accelerations, and angular velocities from sensors located along the pelvis, spine, tibia, and foot/heel of the manikin. The data is analyzed to provide design information for developing safer military vehicles as well as protective tactical gear.

“The program provides a state-of-art test capability to assess potential skeletal injuries of soldiers exposed to under-body blast,” Said Fred Hughes, director of DTS’ WIAMan Engineering Office. “The WIAMan effort is an example of outstanding collaboration among academia, industry, and the government.”

About the Author

Jack Browne | Technical Contributor

Jack Browne, Technical Contributor, has worked in technical publishing for over 30 years. He managed the content and production of three technical journals while at the American Institute of Physics, including Medical Physics and the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology. He has been a Publisher and Editor for Penton Media, started the firm’s Wireless Symposium & Exhibition trade show in 1993, and currently serves as Technical Contributor for that company's Microwaves & RF magazine. Browne, who holds a BS in Mathematics from City College of New York and BA degrees in English and Philosophy from Fordham University, is a member of the IEEE.

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