Real veterans, virtual soldier
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Growing up, David Bein always figured he'd become a Marine, following in his dad's footsteps. But he couldn't have foreseen how he'd put his military experience to use with a University of Iowa project that promises to help tomorrow's soldiers complete their missions.
Iowa's renowned Virtual Soldier Research (VSR) program uses a realistic avatar dubbed Santos to simulate everything from battlefield scenarios to potential industrial innovations.
Directed by Karim Abdel-Malek, professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical and industrial engineering, VSR is an independent research group within the UI Center for Computer-Aided Design. VSR and other projects like the National Advanced Driving Simulator have made the university a leader in simulation research and applications.
Santos moves and reacts like a real person, thanks in large part to veterans like Bein and motion-capture technologies that add their movements to Santos's repertoire. VSR investigators are currently pursuing a project that may lighten the load for soldiers by charting how the things they carry affect their efficiency and endurance.