Light Weight Vehicle Structures that Absorb and Direct Destructive Energy Away from the Occupant

Principal Investigator: Nickolas Vlahopoulos, University of Michigan,
Student: Weiran Jiang, University of Michigan
Government: Ravi Thyagarajan, Matt Castanier, U.S. Army TARDEC
Industry: Nam Purush, BAE Systems

This project began in March 2013 and was completed by mid-2016.

Inner bulkheads configured in a model of the TARDEC V-Hull structure a.k.a. TARDEC Generic HullLighter weight vehicles is an enabling factor for faster transport, higher mobility, greater fuel conservation, higher payload and a reduced ground footprint of supporting forces. At the same time high levels of protection must be offered by the vehicle to its occupants against explosive threats. Weight reduction and high levels of survivability are mutually competing objectives.

The main objectives of this research effort is 1) to investigate the use of appropriate material properties for designing light weight structures that offer increased protection to the occupant and 2) to develop a reduced order model which can be used for evaluating rapidly a large number of alternative layered material configurations for absorbing and redirecting energy.

This work builds on a previous project that developed a multi-scale modeling technology and demonstrated that delaying and controlling the contact between a vehicle and an occupant reduces the loads developed in the occupant’s members.


  • TARDEC V-Hull model
  • MATLAB implementation of the reverberation matrix method


  • Jiang, W., Bennett, A., Vlahopoulos, N., Castanier, M. et al., "A Reduced-Order Model for Evaluating the Dynamic Response of Multilayer Plates to Impulsive Loads," SAE Int. J. Passeng. Cars - Mech. Syst. 9(1):2016, doi:10.4271/2016-01-0307.
  • W. Jiang, N. Vlahopoulos, M. P. Castanier, R. Thyagarajan, S. Mohammad, "Tuning material and component properties to reduce weight and increase blastworthiness of a notional V-hull structure", Case Studies in Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing, Vol. 2, Pp. 19-28, Dec. 2015. doi:10.1016/j.csmssp.2015.10.001
  • W. Jiang, N. Vlahopoulos, M. Castanier, R. Thyagarajan, S. Mohammad, "Reducing Structural Weight and Increasing Protection in Simple Structures Subjected to Blast Loads", NDIA Ground Vehicle Systems Engineering and Technology Symposium (GVSETS) Modeling & Simulation, Testing and Validation (MSTV) Mini-Symposium August 12-14 2014, Novi, MI. DTIC download