Meet Santos. He's a simulated soldier, being developed at the University of Iowa. And he's so true-to-life, Wired News reports, that engineers are using him to test out equipment before it ever leaves the desktop.
Santos is programmed with extensive modeling data, the result of research on the human body. As he moves in response to commands, he sends back information on his comfort level and joint angles. And, if Santos has difficulty completing a task, project engineers will have the correct information to make modifications before the first stage of production begins.When the U.S. Army needs new designs of combat-ready body armor and other protective gear, it, too, turns to digital human technology. Santos can model the new duds and advise if they are too restrictive, or if the material doesn't have enough give to be useful in the field.In a demonstration, Santos appeared on a monitor, dressed in desert camouflage. Darkness enveloped an overturned Humvee, and Santos struggled to escape through a narrow hatch opening. After removing his vest and holster, he easily slid through to safety.