Ford Builds Better Dummies Now, Will Focus On Building Better Cars And Trucks Later?

The one big piece of news out of FoMoCo this week (other than the HOG Edition F-150 of course!) appears to be the leading role they're playing in development of an abdominal insert for pediatric crash dummies. Yup, the once proud automaker's now fallen to this — issuing press releases on how good they are at making crash dummies look and feel like little kids. What, you think we'd go for the obvious joke of FoMoCo making dummies smart? That's not how we roll 'round these parts. Well, not usually anyway. Full press release fortunately without pictures of fake tiny tummies after the jump.

FORD'S ROLE IN DEVELOPING MORE LIFELIKE PEDIATRIC CRASH DUMMY RECEIVES RECOGNITION


Yokohama, Japan, May 23 - Ford Motor Company's leading role in developing an abdominal insert for pediatric crash dummies continues to receive positive recognition from engineers and experts within the field of biomechanics.

This week, Ford's innovative research in this area was part of a technical presentation at the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan's Annual Congress in Yokohama, Japan. Each year, the spring gathering attracts hundreds of engineers from around the world and provides an opportunity for them to share their latest research and achievements related to automotive and secondary technologies.

Ford's prototype pediatric abdominal insert is a collaborative effort with The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Wayne State University in Detroit; the University of Virginia; Dearborn-based STR Systems, a safety technology and research firm; and Takata Corporation, a global manufacturer of automotive safety systems.

The collaboration between Ford and the other organizations began in late 2003 in an effort to make pediatric crash dummies and crash tests more real world, and in turn, lead to the development of vehicle restraints that will improve the safety of children.

"The major focus has always been on head and chest injuries," says Steve Rouhana, a senior technical leader with Ford's Passive Safety Research and Advanced Engineering Department,

of crash dummy testing. "But the lack of an abdomen is not just a matter of priority. We really didn't have the technology before to accurately measure abdominal response."

The prototype pediatric abdomen insert is similar in size and shape to a 6-year-old human's and is constructed of a silicone shell made up of multiple lays of liquid silicone. Inside is an LED and optical sensor surrounded by a high-viscosity, red or blue silicone fluid. The complex sensors measure penetration based on the amount of light absorbed by the silicone fluid.

Late last year, the University of Virginia developed a custom belt-loading test apparatus to better assess how the prototype pediatric abdomen responds to belt loading. To ensure accurate test results, data gathered from studies of actual car crashes where 6-year-old children sustained abdominal injuries is being used.

The child abdomen insert is one of the many advanced safety technologies Ford is working on to improve the overall safety of its vehicles and occupants, both big and small.

Since 1992, Ford has been a member of the United States Council for Automotive Research's consortium called the Occupant Safety Research Partnership (OSRP). OSRP developed the world's first small female side impact dummy. Nearly two years ago, Ford opened up the Safety Innovation Laboratory, which houses a custom-built Servo sled capable of simulating five complex crash scenarios - the first crash simulator in the world to offer such a full combination of simulation capabilities. Ford is also hard at work developing a virtual human, the Human Body Model, that will help engineers better understand what happens to the human body during a crash, without the need for actual physical testing.

Related:
Don't Be A Dummy : Woman Run Over By Own Car ; More on The Great Landwind Crash-Test Fiasco of 2005 [internal]