Matt Reed, Ergonomics and Safety Research

Matthew P. Reed, Ph.D.

I'm a Research Professor and Head of the Biosciences Group of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. I conduct research in a variety of areas relating to anthropometry and biomechanics, including vehicle ergonomics and vehicle occupant crash protection. I'm also a Research Professor in the Center for Ergonomics in Industrial and Operations Engineering, where I am Director of the Human Motion Simulation Laboratory. The HUMOSIM Lab develops movement simulation algorithms and ergonomics analysis tools for use with commercial human modeling software.

Follow the links at the right for more information about my research and see these highlights of recent projects.

Google Scholar Profile

Scopus Public Profile (ID: 7401800235)

ORCID ID: 0000-0001-6650-0727

University of Michigan Researchers

We're Hiring!

UMTRI is in growth mode -- we're looking to add faculty and post-docs across a wide range of disciplines. In my group, we're searching for assistant/associate research scientists and post-docs in injury biomechanics. Contact me if you have questions about this opportunity, or apply online.

Update: 2014-01

Seated Soldier Final Presentation

I gave a briefing at the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center this month on our Seated Soldier Study. In close collaboration with the Army, and with assistance from Anthrotech, we measured the seated postures and body shapes of over 300 soldiers. This study is the first we are aware of to document in detail the effects of body armor and body-borne gear on supported seated postures. Major outcomes of this work include new posture-prediction models for drivers and squad members in military vehicles. In addition to posture measurements, over 8200 whole-body surface scans were obtained using a laser scanner, documenting male and female body shape in up to 20 postures. Along with our related work on civilian vehicle occupants, this study provides the first large-scale data on body shapes in supported seated postures. We have used the data to generate statistical models of body shape for use in a wide range of engineering applications.

The Seated Soldier Study was funded by TARDEC through the Automotive Research Center at the University of Michigan. The ARC is a U.S. Army Center of Excellence in modeling and simulation of ground vehicles.


Update: 2013-11

Stapp Conference Talk

I gave a talk at the Stapp Car Crash Conference in Orlando this month. My paper examined the effects of driver characteristics on seat belt fit. We'd previously shown that obesity significantly worsens lap belt fit in passenger conditions. The latest study, based on data from 97 men and women with a wide range of age and body size, show that many drivers place their seat belts farther from their pelves than they should. Individuals with higher BMI had worse belt fit, on average. The results suggest a need to educate drivers about proper belt placement, but also indicate that improved belt designs might help. This research was funded by the Toyota Collaborative Safety Research Center.


Update: 2013-10

SAFER Symposium

I gave a short talk at the IRCOBI conference in Gothenburg Sweden last month. My paper focused on our work measuring and modeling seated occupant body shapes for parametric human body modeling. We are continuing to improve the depth and breadth of our human modeling capability. We have a rich dataset that includes children ages 2 and up, young adults, elderly, and soldiers.


Update: 2013-09

SAFER Symposium

I participated in an informative symposium hosted by SAFER in Gothenburg Sweden. With a focus on occupant protection for children 4-12 years old, the symposium noted the considerable progress made in the past decade while outlining the remaining challenges. The presentations are available at this website.


Digital Human Modeling Symposium June 11-13, 2013

My colleague Matt Parkinson and I hosted a symposium on digital human modeling in Ann Arbor. We had over 140 participants from 12 countries with poster and podium sessions over three days. The program, proceedings, and other info are available at One highlight was a twitter scavenger hunt featuring our brand-new human modeling avatar, Diablos.

Digital Human Modeling Symposium in Ann Arbor, June 11-13, 2013


Update: 2013-06

Soldier Scanning

My colleagues and I presented an update on our work on soldier posture, position, and body shape at the 19th annual meeting of the Automotive Research Center at the University of Michigan. The overall goal of this work is to develop modeling and simulation tools that will lead to safer and more efficient vehicle designs.





Update: 2013-04

Steering Wheel Position

My colleagues and I published several papers at the SAE Congress this week. Driver preference for fore-aft steering wheel position has not previously been addressed directly in the SAE literature. We analyzed data from a laboratory study to create a logistic regression model predicting subjective response as a function of H30, L6, and driver stature. The results compare favorably to a large set of vehicle benchmarking data.


Seat Interaction Simulation



My colleague Jingwen Hu developed a new framework for conducting virtual seat fit testing using a parametric human body model. This work differs from previous simulation studies of human/seat interaction in using a human body model that can represent a large range of male and female body shapes and postures. Our ongoing body-shape modeling work includes the development of new, whole-body paramtric shape and posture models based on a wider range of postures than are found in the CAESAR database we used for this study.


Seat Interaction Simulation

We have measured the interior geometry of dozens of vehicles over the past few years for a wide range of safety and ergonomics applications. One important finding for safety is that the seat belt anchorage locations in second-row, outboard seats vary widely, with the lab belt anchorages spanning essentially the entire legal range. ATD and simulator studies show that the range of belt fit we document in our current paper can have important safety implications.


Update: 2013-02

WIAMan ANthro

We've just completed development of anthropometric specifications for the Army's new WIAMan blast dummy. The new anthropomorphic test device (ATD) will lead to the development of safer vehicles, seats, and interiors. This work is an outgrowth of our Seated Soldier Study.

The U.S. Army's TARDEC organization recently featured our work in an internal publication. The data from this study will have broad applicability in the development of road vehicles, not just military vehicles. This study is the first to gather and model data on whole-body shape from a large, diverse sample of people in supported seated postures. Consistency in study protocol will allow the data from the 300 soldiers measured in this project to be merged with data from 200 adults measured in another current project.

Accelerate Modeling

Recent Updates

Update: 2012-11

Older Driver

Presentation from a special session at the Stapp Car Crash Conference in Savannah, Georgia.

Recent research, including studies by my colleagues at UMTRI, has shown that older drivers are at increased risk of injury in vehicle crashes. Some of that risk is due to frailty -- injury (particularly thoracic injury) occuring with less loading than is required to injury younger occupants. But the posture and belt fit of older drivers may also put them at greater risk. To addess this issue, we are conducting a laboratory study of older occupant posture, belt fit, and body shape. Supported by the Toyota Collaborative Safety Research Center, the study measured 200 men and women, including 120 over age 60. The participants sat in laboratory mockups that can be reconfigured to represent the driver and passenger package configurations of a wide range of vehicles, from sports cars to minivans. Posture and belt fit are recorded using a FARO Arm coordinate digitizer to measure body landmark locations. A whole-body laser scanner is used to record the participant's body shape in a range of postures. These data will be valuable for designing improved restraint systems that optimally protect occupants of all ages.


Recent Updates

Update: 2012-10

Child Recline

At the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting in Boston, I presented an overview of the methods for our recent large-scale child anthropometry study. We used a laser scanner to record the body shapes of 162 kids age 4 to 11 in a wide range of standing and seated postures. These data will be used to develop new anthropometric specifications for crash dummies, but also have application to a wide range of other products for children. We will be using the data to develop parametric finite-element models of children for use in crash simulation and restraint-system optimization.

Paper: A pilot study of three-dimensionsional child anthropometry for restraint system optimization.

Presentation: Three-dimensionsional child anthropometry for restraint system optimization.

Update: 2012-09-05

Older Driver

Wired Autopia covered some of our recent work on body shape modeling. We're using a range of technologies to measure posture and body shape in automotive postures. Although the results have significant applications in ergonomics (for example, improved seat design for comfort) the primary applications of the data and resulting models will be in the development of improved physical and computational surrogates for crash simulations. These tools will allow improved optimization of restraint systems to proteect vehicle occupants with a wide range of physical characteristics. This presentation covers a some of our current activities.

Recent Updates



©2013 Matthew P. Reed and The University of Michigan