Changes for Crash Test Dummies and Impactors Will Help Ensure Realistic Testing - Euro NCAP
In a follow-up discussion with Euro NCAP Technical Manager, Richard Schram, Automotive IQ asked about upcoming changes to crash test dummies and the rationale behind those changes.
"For side impact we are changing the trolley, the ‘impactor’ representing a car.
This will be heavier and stiffer to represent the car because it’s out-dated and
it represents a small soft vehicle…"
Automotive IQ: Regarding crash test dummies, could you discuss what kind of changes we may see for them?
R.S.: For the frontal impact we only have had our so-called ODB, the offset deformable barrier test which is a regulatory test and it has been in place since the 1990s. We have seen huge improvements OEMs have made in vehicles with the car becoming very stiff to ensure the passenger compartment staying stable, where the restraint systems can do their work in the crash.
But we have seen that at the moment accident statistics tell us that small females and elderly people are at higher risk We can see an increased risk of chest injuries for the elderly who have a more fragile chest area and small females who are more vulnerable than males. To address this issue we have introduced an additional frontal test which is the full-width test. It’s well known and it’s been used in the US and other regions for a long time. However, we included a small female dummy rather than the HIII-50 male dummy. The rationale behind this is that we want the restraints to be adaptive. We want them to know which type of occupant is sitting there and adapt to the situation.
Automotive IQ: There are different ways of accomplishing that I suppose?
R.S.: Yes, there are different technologies and one thing Euro NCAP never does is being design restrictive. Whatever solution the manufacturers come up with or find, we will review the different systems, and if we think one of them is making use of the protocol and we don’t think it’s effective in real life, we may exclude them or try to change the protocol to exclude those systems.
We also have a rear adult passenger which forces manufacturers to make more advanced sensors for the rear.
Automotive IQ: Does this relate to whiplash?
R.S.: Well, we do have a test planned next year for whiplash in the rear to ensure that the geometry of the headrest is appropriate. For side impact we are changing the trolley, the ‘impactor’ representing a car. This will be heavier and stiffer to represent the car because it’s out-dated and it represents a small soft vehicle driving into the side and in real life you’ll have heavier and stiffer vehicles hitting you. And on top of that we decided to use a more advanced dummy, there’s a new dummy which is more biodynamic and should give a better insight into real-life protection rather than dummy protection.
Automotive IQ: Are there any efforts being made to work with regulators and independent testing agencies from other markets to help standardize the safety regulations?
R.S.: Yes. It’s counterproductive for us to develop our own protocols which contradict or are completely different to those from regulations or other consumer programs. We have a lot of governments on our board which are also the bodies which are developing the regulations. In that sense we are very close to the development of regulations. Euro NCAP is a tool for the members involved to speed up the implementation where the regulatory process is relatively slow leading to long implementation times. Members can take the same protocol proposed in regulation and come to Euro NCAP and say this is what you need to do. So there’s a benefit for governments to be part of Euro NCAP and push for implementation of these regulations sooner than the regulations themselves.
With regards to consumer testing there is a new initiative that was setup a couple of years ago called Global NCAP. This provides a platform for the NCAPs around the world. You have Japan NCAP, Australasian NCAP, Latin NCAP, US NCAP; you have different NCAPs around the world to speak to each other and to align procedures as much as possible.
We have different accidentology in the different regions around the world, so the procedures do and should reflect that. We are working together as much as we can on the level of procedures and tools we are using. It makes sense that we work together and try to work out harmonization as much as we can.
This is part 2 of our series with Richard Schram.