In 2019, SantosHuman Inc. will engage in research with the University of Ottawa and the University of Waterloo to develop and validate a tool to predict and optimize performance and minimize injury risk to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) soldiers based on personal, operational, equipment and environmental factors. Phase I of the development of the CANadian virtual Soldier Performance Prediction and Optimization Tool (CAN- SPPOT) will be funded by a $200,000 (Canadian) contract from the Department of National Defence’s (DND) Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program. SantosHuman will leverage the 10+ years of experience it has in predicting human physical behavior and performance.
“We are excited to be selected under the first call for proposals for the IDEaS program to help the CAF enhance soldier performance,” said Steve Beck, CEO of SantosHuman Inc. “Our virtual human models based on Santos technologies have made a difference for U.S. warfighters, and we consider it an honor to serve Canadian soldiers by predicting and optimizing their performance.”
CAF soldiers increasingly face unique physical, mental, and cognitive challenges, requiring them to carry more equipment and wear heavier armor. However, the weight and hindrance of increased equipment can become a liability to operational effectiveness—in some cases, overburdening soldiers to the point of causing injuries. Due to the lack of sufficient technology, DND has been limited in its ability to assess and evaluate trade-offs between different equipment and armor configurations, and likely operational outcomes regarding soldier burden, survivability, and performance. In 2018, DND launched the IDEaS program to identify innovative solutions to key challenges facing the CAF, including technology to improve the prediction and optimization of personnel performance.
Through the first IDEaS call for proposals, DND has selected for funding a new Canadian virtual Soldier Performance Prediction and Optimization Tool (CAN-SPPOT). Canadian researchers Ryan Graham (University of Ottawa) and Steve Fischer (University of Waterloo) lead a University-Industry partnership with SantosHuman Inc. to advance the state-of-the-art Santos Pro® platform to provide DND with an unprecedented ability to simulate warfighter performance based on specific individual and task-based characteristics. CAN-SPPOT will disrupt the status quo of conducting expensive and time- consuming field trials and best guesses to evaluate and optimize soldier-system fit, integration and performance, by using quick, cost-effective, trade-off analyses in a virtual environment.
“Understanding how to balance trade-offs between soldier personal characteristics, kit configuration, and operational effectiveness is a major challenge for our Canadian Armed Forces,” said lead investigator Ryan Graham, PhD. “IDEaS support, in partnership with Santos Human Inc., the industry leader in predicting physical human behavior and performance, will allow us to develop a game-changing decision-making tool to inform our military leaders about mission critical kit configuration and operational effectiveness questions.”
The research and development project will launch early in 2019, when the team will begin to integrate common CAF equipment and armor configurations into the Santos Pro® platform. The team will then embark on developing cutting-edge artificial intelligence- based algorithms, which enable Santos predictive models to generate soldier specific motion profiles under different kit configurations.
“Coupling physics-based biomechanical models with neural networks (artificial intelligence) will not only improve the realism of posture and motion prediction but will open the door to incorporating an individual’s nuanced tendencies and history and to linking biomechanical models with cognitive models,” say Dr. Tim Marler, SHI’s Chief Research Scientist. “It is exciting to be involved in an effort like this, which will advance the field of human modeling as well as help support today’s Warfighters.”