Simulation differs from animation in that it is works forward in time. The user enters information about the vehicles and environment into the software, then sets up information such as initial positions, initial velocities, and any other applicable information. The simulation software then predicts things such as vehicle positions, trajectories, acceleration, collision forces, etc. The prediction of vehicle motion is based on Newton’s Laws of Motion. The simulation software used by Northwest Crash Analysis, LLC has been validated through comparison with known crash testing.
Conversely, animation software illustrates vehicle motion and is not physics based. The animations are based on the results of the crash reconstruction or other means. Reconstruction techniques work backwards in time. Based on crash scene, vehicle, and damage data, the reconstruction expert determines things such as vehicle positions, impact speed, change of velocity (Delta V), etc. The animator then takes these results and uses them when creating the animation.
Simulation software is a very powerful reconstruction tool. “If-Then” scenarios can be presented and quickly evaluated. Furthermore, simulation software can be used as an independent means to verify the results determined by other reconstruction methods. If the predicted results are comparable to the results obtained from other reconstruction methods, the reconstruction expert can have a higher degree of confidence in the analysis.
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