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BTN Program Showcases UI Virtual Soldier

Tuesday’s episode of Impact the World—a Big Ten Network program dedicated to university breakthroughs—turns its focus on the University of Iowa Virtual Soldier Research (VSR) program, which is helping scientists and military planners understand life on the battlefield.

The show premieres Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 9:30 p.m. central time. Additional broadcasts are scheduled for 10 p.m., Thursday, March 1; 3 p.m., Friday, March 2; and 10:30 a.m., Sunday, March 4. It’s the concluding episode in an eight-part original series hosted by actor Dennis Haysbert.

VSR last year received an $8.6 million U.S. Navy contract to evaluate how equipment loads affect mobility and physical stress. Researchers hope to determine how much weight soldiers can carry on missions without compromising their safety.

The research utilizes the SANTOS digital human modeling and simulation environment, which features a computerized avatar that duplicates human anatomy and realistically responds to environmental stimuli.

In development since 2003, SANTOS has leveraged more than $23 million in research support by the U.S. Department of Defense and industry partners. It’s also led to the launch of Santos Human Inc., a spin-off company that commercializes related software.