How would you apply your findings to the future products?
We ultimately want to make our research and data available to the industry as a whole to help advance safety for the whole industry and society. As part of that effort, our data could be used with Toyota’s Total Human Model for Safety (THUMS), which is a tool used across the industry to simulate human body injuries caused by vehicle collisions on computer-based models. Toyota recently announced that this tool would be offered for free beginning in 2021.
What other safety-related research have you done on passenger postures?
We are examining passenger postures in a number of different scenarios to help enhance future safety systems. For example, we did another study in partnership with the University of Michigan that looked at how passengers responded to sudden vehicle movements to see how postures and positions change just before a crash. This study was designed to mimic an automated vehicle that might use sudden crash avoidance maneuvers to avoid a crash. If a crash were to occur, these kinds of maneuvers may put passengers in positions other a normal upright posture. If we are able to identify those positions, future safety devices could be improved to better optimize protection.
Using a vehicle designed to collect a wide range of anthropometric data from each passenger, including 3D body scans and passenger head movements, we observed volunteer passengers as they experienced unexpected and abrupt evasive maneuvers, including hard braking and swerving, while traveling at up to 45 miles per hour.