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WIAMan program celebrates milestone

Fred Hughes, U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s WIAMan director, speaks to attendees celebrating the completion of the Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin program biofidelity testing series Feb. 22, 2017, at Johns Hopkins University.

(Editor’s note: Read about how the Army’s Occupant Protection Laboratory, aligned under the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, uses ATDs to help mitigate blast injuries at: http://www.tacomlcmccommunityreport.com/features/3.17featurecrash.aspx
 
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – The U.S. Army Research Laboratory and its partners at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab held a ceremony Feb. 22 to celebrate a milestone in the Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin, or WIAMan program, with the completion of the biofidelity testing series. About 50 people attended the Laurel, Maryland, event.

The purpose of the WIAMan program is to create a “biofidelic, warrior-representative, injury assessment surrogate,” otherwise known as a crash test dummy in the automotive world. Army researchers and their academic and industry partners are developing a dummy – based on human response data – that is capable of predicting specific injury risk to occupants in a vehicle during live-fire tests. Injury biomechanics is an engineering discipline to study the mechanisms and tolerances of injury to aid in vehicle design, such as military vehicles.

The ceremony commemorated the end of the biofidelity testing. This first phase of the program was conducted to determine how the human body acts under vertical forces. The team wanted to ensure the anthropomorphic test device, or ATD, response is the same as a human response. The current ATD (Hybrid III, made for the auto industry) is not biofidelic for underbody blast loading, which means it does not have the same response a human would have in vertical loading conditions. Phase 2, which includes the injury biomechanics research, is about 10 percent complete. The final injury assessment capability is expected to be complete in fiscal 2020.

“The BRC [biofidelity response corridor] testing was a massive undertaking that comprised of hundreds of tests with seven of our university partners over a three-year timeframe. Johns Hopkins are great partners in this endeavor and we couldn’t do it without you. This is the largest biomechanical effort in the world -- this has never been done before for underbody blast,” said Fred Hughes, ARL’s WIAMan director, who indicated this milestone is a critical component of the WIAMan capability to access injury for Soldiers.

Hughes, who is a former Soldier, spoke about the importance of this research for every service member on the battlefield.

“This is a big deal -- everyone should be proud of this! Our customer is the U.S. Army Soldier-- we are supporting the finest fighting Soldier in the world,” he said.

Andrew Merkle, APL’s former biomechanics product team lead, thanked ARL and expressed his gratitude to the university teams and the principal investigators for their commitment to the mission and for understanding the needs of the product.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Dr. Philip Perconti, ARL’s acting-director was presented a framed sample of some of the final biofidelity response corridors. In addition to the BRCs, Dr. Perconti and other key members of the team were presented a commemorative coin designed by APL.

Perconti said he was motivated by the event and said no one can speak about service issues as well as to someone who has served – thanking Hughes for his commitment.

“This is a remarkable success – you helped move the entire community to the left. I applaud everyone at ARL, APL and the universities – all individual contributions will ultimately safe lives,” Perconti said.
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