The Virtual Soldier Research program located at the University of Iowa has won a two-point-three million dollar contract from the U.S. Army to continue its research. The program is located in the College of Engineering, where senior research scientist Tim Marler says they’re trying to create one thing, a "very high fidelity, realistic, intelligent virtual human, as human as human can be."
Marler says the virtual human will be able to test out equipment and tell designers that it can reach a peddle or can’t lift something, saving the cost of building practice models or prototypes. Marler says the virtual human will look like a video game, but will be better.
Marler says the humans in video games look real, but are just drawing from a database in how to react. Marler says they want something that’s much more realistic in its movement. He says their virtual human will also be able to give feedback.
Marler says it will five feedback on things like heart rate, oxygen uptake, muscle force and stress, more information that you get in a video game. Marler says the virtual human they’re designing will react based on scientific formulas.
Marler says they have a new method called "optimization based" which is a field of mathematics that they use with a special software that models the way you move. As an example, he says they hypothesize that when you walk you try to minimize the torque of your body and they find all the torques on your joints when you walk, and determine how those torques are minimized. Marler says they’re working on a variety of applications for the program, with the latest involving tanks.