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The high-tech "guinea pig" for car crash testing? A new generation of dummies!

Nowadays, with the advent of vehicle crash test dummies, high-risk tests have changed. High-tech mannequins can provide critical information for the safety of modern vehicles. In the experimental test, the dummy is equipped with hundreds of sensors, which are used to collect sensor information such as acceleration and force generated in a vehicle collision to improve road safety

In the early vehicle collision tests, the knocked out pigs and real volunteers were the subjects in the test, and they were often exposed to the splashing of glass shards. Under this condition, the experimental testers were accompanied by great danger. Nowadays, with the advent of vehicle crash test dummies, these high-risk tests have changed. High-tech mannequins can provide critical information for the safety of modern vehicles. In the experimental test dummy, there are hundreds of sensors, which are used to collect the acceleration and force generated in the collision of the vehicle. When the car is in a violent collision, the airbag will deploy. As a company focusing on testing and measuring technology, Kistler is developing a new generation of frontal collision dummy that can reproduce the facial injuries suffered by the occupants when they hit the airbag.

Until the middle of the 20th century, people took it for granted that the human body could not withstand the impact of a vehicle collision. At that time, people generally believed that traffic accidents would definitely cause death. This idea was not unreasonable in that era: vehicles at that time were made of hard, sharp metal fittings and were generally not equipped with seat belts. In the early 1950s, driven by this idea, researchers began the initial vehicle crash tests. They put human corpses in the cockpit to study the typical internal and external injuries caused by vehicle collisions. Later, the volunteers volunteered to actively participate in tests such as emergency braking, and even put themselves among the glass shards flying around. However, it is obvious that humans can hardly bear the pain caused by vehicle collisions, so engineers put the knocked pigs, bears or monkeys in the cab to replace volunteers for more brutal tests.

Sensor technology, a new era savior for crash testing

Finally, the world’s first vehicle crash test dummy, Sierra Sam, was born, allowing both humans and animals to escape the dangers caused by crash tests. Sierra Sam was invented by the U.S. Air Force in 1949 and was converted into a dummy for vehicle crash tests a few years later. In order to simulate humans as much as possible, the Sierra Sam series includes male and female dummies of various body types, heights, and ages. However, it is not dummies of different sizes and heights that bring revolutionary breakthroughs to vehicle crash testing, but the application of integrated technology in dummies.

In the early 1970s, General Motors invented Hybrid I, II, and III series dummies, and was the first to install sensors to measure force and acceleration on the head, torso, and thighs of the dummies. With the development of technology, engineers have also installed sensors on other parts of the human body that may suffer fatal injuries, such as the neck and spine. They also used angular velocity sensors to measure the bending of the dummy's limbs during a vehicle collision.

Intelligent dummy

For many years, the Hybrid III dummy has always been regarded as the industry standard-until the THOR dummy replaced it and became the main driver of the occupants in vehicle crash tests. Compared with Hybrid III, the THOR (Human Occupant Restraint Test Device) dummy has many advantages. For example, it integrates a facial sensor, which can more clearly reflect the distribution of the force on the face when the occupant hits the airbag. The THOR dummy is an adult male with an average weight of 77 kg and a height of 1.76 meters.

In order to put the new generation of crash test dummies into practical applications, Kistler’s measurement experts assembled a data acquisition system with as many as 288 measurement channels. The measurement data of the dummy after a vehicle collision can be quickly exported by only using an Ethernet cable in the chest cavity of the dummy. In contrast, the "predecessors" of THOR are wrapped with various wires, like marionettes. Since 2018, Kistler has completed the complete production process of the THOR dummy in the Heidelberg plant.

Despite such tremendous progress, the development of dummy for vehicle crash tests still has a long way to go. Looking to the future, the dummy will be further optimized and become more intelligent, for example, it can more realistically reproduce the damage to the internal organs of the human body in a vehicle collision. A long time ago, people thought that traffic accidents would definitely cause death-now, thanks to dummies used for vehicle crash tests, that era is gone forever.
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