Crash test dummies - surely the most tragic of all the mannequin communities - have a different name within the automotive safety industry. They're called anthropomorphic test devices, and they're high-tech pieces of equipment that have saved many lives over the years.
Packed with sophisticated monitors and sensors, crash test dummies serve as front line soldiers in the effort to make vehicles safer. But they have their limitations. Most units only provide data on around 20 different points on the body and are necessarily bound by physical and material limitations.
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According to this interesting report over at MIT Technology Review, researchers and automakers are gradually moving toward a new kind of safety test device system that focuses on computer simulations and virtual test dummies. Researchers say these new systems can give us more useful safety data to prevent and mitigate injury.
For instance, digital crash simulators can be programmed to include highly detailed medical data on how bones and soft tissue actually respond to different kinds of trauma. The sheer number-crunching efficiency of virtual testing also allows for a far greater range of body shapes, sizes, positions and angles of impact.
Researchers at Wake Forest University recently completed a five-year study involving thousands of virtual crash simulations, each using detailed vehicle, medical and crash-scene data drawn from real-world incidents.
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The Wake Forest system leverages the power of super-advanced digital models that factor in up to 1.8 million separate information elements. For instance, whereas a traditional crash test dummy might provide hard numbers from an accelerometer or force sensor, the digital dummy can factor in information like bone strength and internal organ structure.
It's good news for mannequins, anyway. Hopefully some of the young trainees in the crash test academy can get reassigned - maybe a cushy storefront display gig at Macy's.
via MIT Technology Review