Sensor helps solve child seats challenge
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 www.chevrolet.com