The Army making its own crash test mannequin

Right now there are American war fighters driving vehicles in dangerous places. Places where an enemy could shoot at them, or place a bomb or mine where they could explode and damage the vehicle. Those sort of blasts injure soldiers. "We've seen a proliferation of under body blasts, where you can actually have mines and bombs going off underneath vehicles, that are causing a lot of substantial injuries to soldiers inside the vehicles," says Frederick Hughes, the Director of the WIAMan Engineering Office.

WIAMan is the name of the project that's developing the "Warrior Injury Assessment Mannequin."  The mannequin is the Army's version of an automobile crash test dummy. Those mannequins are fine for measuring the force and danger of forward, back and side crashes, but they are not similar enough to humans for the Army's purposes. "So, the Army is going to make an effort here to develop a biofidelic, meaning it moves like a human...it's scientifically validated...so we have to match to human movement," says Frederick Hughes.

Human movement is complex, and for the Army's project it's the movement from the foot, to the neck. "His range of motion matches what a human range of motion. His arm can come up, move forward. A lot of the test mannequins that you have in the industry do not move the same as a human," says Frederick Hughes.

Developing a mannequin that mirrors a human body is much harder than it might seem. "It's difficult, it takes some time in trying to characterize a human being's bones in battle. So it takes some time and effort. Multiple Universities had to do this over and extended period of time," said Mark Angelos, from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Among the many problems faced by the WIAMan project was developing a platform to simulate the under vehicle explosions. At this point both the platform and mannequin are being tested, and the entire project is getting closer to doing what it's intended to do. "We will save lives, cause this information will be used to improve vehicles," says Frederick Hughes.

The WIAMan Project is under the auspices of the Army Materiel Command, which is headquartered at Redstone Arsenal. The actual mannequin is based on the average size of a modern soldier, 5'-11" tall, and 185 pounds.