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A Smarter Kind of Crash Test Dummy

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A digital crash test dummy.

Researchers at Wake Forest University are using actual vehicle, scene, and medical data to enhance the reality of car crash simulations being run on a supercomputer.

Credit: Ashley Weaver

Car crash simulations are being run on a supercomputer using a combination of actual vehicle, scene, and medical data by Wake Forest University researchers. The digital models permit scientists to examine the effects of a crash to a far greater degree than crash test dummies by testing diverse body shapes and sizes and different body positions at the moment of collision.

"My hope is that the research will provide a cost-effective solution for evaluating new and existing automotive safety features," says Wake Forest professor Ashley Weaver.

The model can measure the risk of bone fractures and damage to soft tissue and organs, which crash test dummies cannot.

The researchers employed a digital model containing about 1.8 million elements, which combine to replicate the human form. They then ran simulations until the model precisely emulated the effects of different crashes on real-world victims.

"Digital crash dummies [allow us] to determine the best methods to modify vehicle chassis, interiors, seats, headrests, safety belts, dashes, and active safety systems, such as airbags, to improve safety very early in the vehicle-design process," says Nvidia engineer Bill Veenhuis.

He notes testing with real dummies is then done to validate the digital dummy tests.

From Technology Review
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