Simulation enables better ergonomics in trucks

March 17, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Being the place where the driver works, lives and sleeps, the design of a truck's cab deserves particular attention from designers. Virtual tools help designers to achieve best ergonomics for this specific place. At the Cebit IT trade fair, Daimler Trucks showcases simulations of typical activities of test persons in commercial vehicles. The exhibit illustrates the possibilities of today's simulation tools.

Daimler Trucks' exhibit is part of the ARVIDA project (Applied Reference Architecture for Virtual Services and Applications). The project is intended to fathom out the ergonomic needs of truck drivers in the early stages of the development process of a truck cab. At the current Cebit trade show in Hannover, Daimler and three partners demos a virtual driver climbing into the cab of an Actros truck. The simulation is based on real-world data - test persons have been fitted with about 60 optical markers to acquire data on every movement.  

By the time the project will be finished in 2016, Daimler Trucks plans to have gathered virtual 3D ergonomics analyses of motion sequences available as early as the concept development phase of such a vehicle.

Currently the developers use the software RAMSIS (Computer-aided Anthropometric-Mathematical System for Occupant Simulation) which simulates the model of a human, although it is not yet able to show movements at the present point in time. The software can be used on a CAD construction to analyse ergonomically relevant factors such as accessibility, available space, comfort, field of vision and belt routing. There are significant differences between the cab of a truck and a passenger car. "Compared with a passenger car, studies into the ergonomics of a truck cover a much wider spectrum", explains Richard Sauerbier who works in the ergonomics research at Daimler. "Movements inside the truck such as lying, standing or opening of stowage compartments represent a major challenge, not to mention the complex process of climbing in and out using multiple steps and handles".

One of the goals of the project is replacing complex tests with mockups by computer-based tests with digital mockups (DMUs). Towards this end, various additional digital motion sequences are created, processed and segmented as logical sub-units that can be modified. Users combine multiple sequences to a virtual vehicle environment which makes it possible to realistically simulate any desired