GM promises the upcoming 2013 Chevrolet Malibu will provide the utmost in comfort, and it can thank Oscar for it. Oscar kept busy in providing engineers with key measurements used to develop maximum comfort in the new model, and the comfort engineers wouldn’t even begin to layout the vehicle’s dimensions without his input. Although it sounds like Oscar deserves a raise, it won’t do him much good.
Oscar is a three-dimensional, mannequin-like simulation tool used by engineers to help them develop seats that can accommodate drivers and passenger of various sizes with exceptional comfort. Oscar, weighing in at 170 pounds and assembled in 18 different parts, is technically known as a “Comfort Dimensioning System.”
Malibu seat performance engineer Daniel Cohen says “Oscar represents our consumers,” and that’s because he can take their shape. Oscar can be assembled to represent an average 172 pound adult, scaled up to 270 pounds, and is even capable of modeling a more petite 108 pound female.
Oscar’s shape and size was developed by using human X-rays, and is mechanically hinged at the hip-point, closely mimicking the pivotal center of the human torso and thigh. Oscar’s hip-point helps comfort engineers get an idea of how much headroom is needed, along with a comfortable back angle. All this in turn helps paint the overall picture of the positioning of driving controls like the steering wheel, pedals, rearview mirrors and instrument panel.
But Oscar is not completely new to GM, he’s 50 years old! The automaker designed and patented him back in 1961, and he still continues to be a vital asset to the comfort engineering team.
Why the name ‘Oscar?’ The dummy is descendant from the Oscar Eightball, a heavier 185-pound dummy used by Northrop for ejection seat and other testing in aviation. GM drew inspiration from the mannequin and created its own. In order to differentiate between the two , GM dropped the ‘Eightball’ from the dummy name.