Ford Motor Co. Developing Prototype for Child Crash Test Dummies

December 28, 2007

A high-tech insert, similar in size and shape to a 6-year-old’s abdomen, is being developed for crash test dummies to help improve vehicle safety for children.

The prototype is part of an effort to make pediatric crash dummies and crash tests more real world, leading to better vehicle restraints, according to a Ford Motor Co. release.

The Dearborn-based automaker is developing the prototype. Partners in the collaboration include Wayne State University in Detroit, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Takata Corp., which makes automotive safety systems.

Crash tests mainly have focused on head and chest injuries, according to Steve Rouhana, a technical leader in Ford’s crash dummy testing.

“But the lack of an abdomen is not just a matter of priority,” he said. “We really didn’t have the technology before to accurately measure abdominal response.”

The silicone prototype features an LED and optical sensor surrounded by a high-viscosity, red or blue silicone fluid. Sensors measure penetration based on the amount of light absorbed by the silicone fluid.

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