Crash Test Dummies Might Get a Bit Larger
Manufacturer Builds 275-Pound Male Dummy
With nearly 40 percent of the adult population falling into the “obese” category, it’s important for car manufacturers to ensure their vehicles can adequately protect people of all shapes and sizes.
To that end, Michigan-based dummy manufacturer Humanetics Innovative Solutions recently announced they had developed a larger crash-test dummy to help automotive suppliers improve safety for all consumers. Using the same skeletal structure as Humanetics’ 171-pound 50th-percentile male dummy, the new dummy comes with different body measurements that will help it closely emulate the characteristics of a 273-pound male with a body mass index of 35. The two dummies can be compared in the image above, with the obese dummy on the left and the 50th-percentile dummy on the right.
The company says obese people are 78 percent more likely to die in a car crash, which could be for a number of reasons. Modern safety systems are designed around dummies with smaller, thinner proportions, so those systems may fail or provide inadequate protection among heavier individuals. Additionally, larger people may find seat belts inconvenient or uncomfortable, so they may neglect to use them at all, and the obese are also more likely to experience health complications from injuries than thin people.
The 273-pound dummy was tested in tandem with the University of Virginia, which involved belting the dummy to a sled and recording its kinematic responses. Results of those tests were compared to postmortem human subjects, confirming that the obese dummy’s seated posture and seat belt positioning was consistent with belted obese humans. The altered posture and restraint-system use for an obese individual creates complications for passenger protection, but perhaps the new dummy will help safety designers overcome those challenges.
Humanetics says the dummy will be available for widespread use early in 2015, and the company is making the prototype available for others in the automotive industry to evaluate and compare data.
Source: Humanetics Innovative Solutions