Ford uses virtual child to study accident impacts on anatomy

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A line of seated automotive crash test dummies await their concussive destiny.

With Ford's use of digital crash test dummies, will these guys be hitting the unemployment line? (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Michael Robinson/Time to Eat the Dogs)

In a move to improve the safety of its vehicles, Ford engineers and scientists from China’s Tianjin University of Science and Technology are developing digital crash test dummies for simulated tests as part of a one-year agreement. The computerized human models are intended to increase automotive designers’ knowledge of how human anatomy responds to the force involved in automotive accidents, reports the Detroit Free Press.

The model of automotive safety

Ford Research and Advanced Engineering Senior Technical Leader for Safety Dr. Steve Rouhana, who acknowledged that automotive crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 1 to 34, told the Detroit Free Press that it is vital to understand how related injuries work across age groups.

“Building the model of a person is just like building a model of a car,” said Rouhana. “You start with your surface geometry for each component and any sub-component it contains – in this case the geometry of the human body and its internal organs.”

Children are more vulnerable than adults

Internal organs and the protective skeletal and muscle systems are less mature in children, making the blunt trauma of an automotive accident even worse. Understanding how major physical impacts affect the internal organs of young children has prompted Ford’s most recent work to develop an ultra-realistic virtual child body.

While such digital models won’t replace tangible crash test dummies, they will help designers to better understand how to create vehicles that maximize safety.

“The more you know about the human body, the more we can consider how to make our restraint systems even better,” said Rouhana.

Tools that measure the speed of safety

According to Daily Tech, Ford and Tianjin University researchers are studying the geometry and function of a child’s body via the use of MRI and CAT scans. The data these scans provide make it possible for computer artists to build a digital crash test dummy of a child, with an intense degree of attention paid to how the brain, skull, neck and ribcage move during an accident. While scientists are still in the early stages of virtual human body development, Rouhana notes that this groundwork will enable automotive designers to save more lives with each passing year.


Daily Tech

Detroit Free Press

Ford wants you to meet your digital crash test dummy

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