Interaction with Technical Systems
Mankind always tried to apply mechanical principles and models to biological systems in general and to human movement in particular. Modern analytical methods to describe complex three-dimensional movement and advanced numerical tools developed in the field of multi-body dynamics allow us to model, simulate and analyse the interaction of biological and technical systems.
Applications in Prosthetics
The increasing population of elderly and the desire of this group to maintain physical fitness and mobility as long as possible lead to new challenges in Biomechanics. Degenerative processes, a disease or an accident may reduce an individual‘s mobility. An extreme situation in this case is the partial or full loss of an extremity, although there are modern prostheses that use mechatronic components to restore at least rudimentary functions of the lost extremity. To develop and improve such systems, it is necessary to have basic knowledge and understanding of the biological system‘s mechanical structure and function.
Based on human gait data, different concepts of control algorithms used in prosthetic legs can be tested and simulated by computers. These virtual tests help to detect critical situations that might present a risk to the patient in a real-world scenario. They also allow to calculate internal system parameters that might be difficult to be obtained experimentally. Furthermore, optimisation strategies can be applied.
Application in Vehicle Safety
Over the last decades, traffic related fatalities and injuries have been reduced dramatically by various measures. However, many injury mechanisms are not fully understood yet. Nonetheless, the broad range of accident scenarios leaves an open field for further improvements and new developments for occupant safety in different means of transportation. Although experimental research is still an important source of knowledge, numerical simulations have become an integral part in analysing different accident scenarios and optimising new developments.
To assess injury risks at an early stage of development simulations, the use of numerical dummy models can be deployed not only for cars but also for rail vehicles and metros. In the lack of a regulatory framework, knowledge of different injury criteria can be used to study the influence of different design parameters.
Recently, more detailed human simulation models have become available. These models comprise anatomical representations more realistically than dummies due to many legislative regulations. Those simulations show, for instance, that dummies miss essential geometric biofidelity in the thorax area. As a result of this, safety benefits from new developments might not be reflected in standard regulatory test procedures.
Figures: Diploma Thesis Laura Dietzel, 2015