Most occupant accommodation assessments of a new vehicle design currently still utilize human appraisal. That is, human subjects experience the new design physically and provide feedback including a numerical rating or verbatim description. There are two drawbacks with this type of assessment: 1) the outcome is subjective. They are likely affected by other factors such as the vehicle’s appearance or brand and the individual’s own bias; 2) the outcome may not be able to reveal where the issues are nor how to resolve them.

The digital manikin technology has been widely used in different areas: starting from movie and video gaming industries, and getting more and more involved in the product life circle of manufacture industries. Human motions are captured, and the digital manikin is utilized to present these motions virtually. This paper introduces a method that uses digital manikins to assist the process of vehicle design. Subjects’ motions interacting with a vehicle, which are related to a new design change, are captured. These motions are used to drive digital manikins that represent their respective subjects in size and body shape. A software system that animates the digital manikin according to the motions and creates swept volumes of selected body segments was created. The collection of the swept volumes of all subjects represents the space that is occupied by the human body during the motion. This space can be used to assess the design changes by indicating the minimum clearance between the swept volume and vehicle components or the interference between the human body with the components. In addition, the space described by the swept volumes provides a guideline or space limit for any future design changes.

This method is objective. It not only pin-points the locations that cause discomfort or inconvenience by the new design, but also provides quantitative suggestions on how much improvement is needed for a better design.

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