Sen­sor helps solve child seats chal­lenge

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

DETROIT — With ap­pro­pri­ate child safety seats and safety belts now legally re­quired in South Africa, flex­i­bil­ity, ad­justa­bil­ity and com­pat­i­bil­ity will be­come an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant fac­tor in the car­buy­ing de­ci­sion.

Chevrolet is mak­ing huge strides in this depart­ment, with ve­hi­cles such as the Tra­verse mid-sized SUV of­fer­ing par­ents flex­i­bil­ity when it comes to fit­ting child safety seats. But how do GM en­gi­neers de­ter­mine what seats fit and where, es­pe­cially with hun­dreds of mod­els on the mar­ket?

A Kinect mo­tion sen­sor, orig­i­nally de­vel­oped for the Xbox 360, is help­ing to solve that chal­lenge.

“There are over 250 dif­fer­ent makes and mod­els of child safety seats on the mar­ket, and new or re­vised mod­els are in­tro­duced ev­ery year,” said Julie Klein­ert, GM’s Global Child Safety Tech­ni­cal Lead.

Through the Cen­tre for Child In­jury Pre­ven­tion Stud­ies (CChIPS), a Na­tional Science Foun­da­tion-funded in­dus­try/uni­ver­sity re­search co-op­er­a­tive with part­ner re­search sites at The Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal of Philadel­phia (CHOP) and The Ohio State Uni­ver­sity, Klein­ert and en­gi­neers from other ve­hi­cle and child seat man­u­fac­tur­ers are work­ing to de­velop new tools to help man­u­fac­tur­ers eval­u­ate child seat com­pat­i­bil­ity.

The Kinect for Win­dows sen­sor was first launched for the Xbox gam­ing con­sole be­fore be­ing made avail­able to Win­dows de­vices. The same tech­nol­ogy cre­ated to cap­ture player move­ments and en­able voice con­trol of video games dou­bles as a pow­er­ful scan­ning tool in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try.

The project, led by CHOP’s Dr Aditya Bel­wadi, de­vel­oped a method­ol­ogy to use the Kinect con­troller to digi­tise the shape of a child seat in min­utes and at a frac­tion of the cost of an industrial scan­ner.

CHOP re­searchers cre­ated “sur­ro­gate” child seat shapes by over­lay­ing the in­di­vid­ual child seat scans pro­duced by the Kinect on top of one an­other.

This sur­ro­gate rep­re­sents the max­i­mum amount of space needed for a par­tic­u­lar cat­e­gory of child seat. Vir­tual eval­u­a­tions of the sur­ro­gate may prove to be a sim­ple way for ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers to as­sess a large range of child seats with a sin­gle tool.

The team hope this ap­proach, which was pre­sented as a tech­ni­cal pa­per at the 2015 SAE World Congress in Detroit in April, may in­flu­ence other ve­hi­cle and child seat man­u­fac­tur­ers to adopt a com­mon stan­dard for the size and ge­om­e­try of dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories of child seats.

More in­for­ma­tion on Chevrolet mod­els can be found at

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