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Ford’s Virtual Soldier

From the front lines to the assembly lines.

by on May.19, 2010

From the front lines to the assembly line for virtual soldier Santos.

There’s a new guy on the assembly line, and this former soldier is proving to be an inexhaustible tough guy with great military credentials, according to Ford.

Named Santos, he’s being tasked with both helping to improve quality and to reduce worker fatigue in a job that can quickly strain his flesh-and-blood colleagues.

Able to “walk, talk and answer questions,” Santos came to digital life as a virtual soldier, developed for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) by the University of Iowa to help reduce the strain on real GIs.  Now, he’s being put to work on Ford’s assembly lines in an effort to improve ergonomics.

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“Creating the safest and most ergonomic way to build a vehicle is a trial-and-error process – in recent years technology has allowed this process to happen in the virtual world,” said Allison Stephens, ergonomics technical specialist with Vehicle Operations Manufacturing Engineering. “Santos takes this to a new level. He can perform a task and tell us whether over months and years it will cause back strain, for example, and we can make adjustments until we find the optimal way to get the job done.”

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