Saab, Volvo build a smarter dummy

GOTHENBURG, Sweden (Jan. 21) — Researchers at Sweden’s Saab AB and Volvo AB have developed a crash-test dummy with a “human” spine for studying the effects on the body of rear-end collisions, the primary cause of whiplash injuries.

The test dummy, the product of a three-year research venture called BioRID (Biofidelic Rear Impact Dummy), has a spine consisting of 24 rigid plastic vertebrae joined by articulated metal joints. In the thoracic region, these take the form of torsion rods, while the neck moves using a system of damping elements and “surrogate muscle” in the form of longitudinal cables. The spine is enclosed in a cast silicon body cavity with a “stomach” that contains a water balloon to simulate its human counterpart.

“The aim was to create a dummy that can sit and move in as humanly realistic a manner as possible,” explained project leader and Volvo scientist Lotta Jakobsson. She added that the model is suitable for use in crash tests at low and medium speeds, the very conditions under which most whiplash injuries occur.

Not surprisingly, interest in BioRID on the part of automakers, accident research bodies, and rating institutes around the world “is already huge,” Jakobsson said.

BioRID project partners also included Autoliv, a manufacturer of passenger restraint systems, and Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg.

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