first crash test dummy was the Sierra Sam created in 1949. This 95th percentile
adult male crash test dummy was developed by Sierra Engineering Co. under
a contract with the United States Air Force, to be used for evaluation
of aircraft ejection seats on rocket sled tests." - Source FTSS
Dummies - Family
GM Press Release March 19, 1997
In 1997, GM's Hybrid III crash test
dummies officially became the industry standard for testing to comply with
government frontal impact regulations and air bag safety. GM developed
this test device nearly 20 years ago, in 1977, to provide a biofidelic
measurement tool -- crash test dummies that behave very similarly to human
beings. As it did with its earlier design, Hybrid II, GM shared this cutting-edge
technology with government regulators and the auto industry. The sharing
of this tool was made in the name of improved safety testing and reduced
highway injuries and fatalities, worldwide. The 1997 version of Hybrid
III is the GM invention with some modifications. It marks another milestone
in the automaker’s trailblazing journey for safety. Hybrid III is the state-of-the-art
for testing advanced restraint systems; GM has been using it for years
in the development of front-impact air bags. It provides a broad spectrum
of reliable data that can be related to the effects of crashes on human
Hybrid III features a posture representative
of the way drivers and passengers sit in vehicles. All crash test dummies
are faithful to the human form they simulate -- in overall weight, size
and proportion. Their heads are designed to respond like the human head
in a crash situation. It is symmetrical and the forehead deflects much
the way a person's would if struck in a collision. The chest cavity has
a steel rib cage that simulates the mechanical behavior of a human chest
in a crash. The rubber neck bends and stretches biofidelically, and the
knees also are designed to respond to impact, similar to human knees. Hybrid
III crash test dummy has a vinyl skin and is equipped with sophisticated
electronic tools including accelerometers, potentiometers and load cells.
These measure the acceleration, deflection and forces that various body
parts experience during crash deceleration.
This advanced device is being improved
continuously and was built on a scientific foundation of biomechanics,
medical data and input, and testing that involved human cadavers and animals.
Biomechanics is the study of the human body and how it behaves mechanically.
Universities conducted early biomechanical research using live human volunteers
in some very controlled crash tests. Historically, the auto industry had
evaluated restraint systems using volunteer testing with humans.
years ago, the development of Hybrid III served as a launching pad to advance
the study of crash forces and their effects on human injury. All earlier
crash test dummies, even GM's Hybrid I and II, could not provide adequate
insight to translate test data into injury-reducing designs for cars and
trucks. Early crash test dummies were very crude and had a simple purpose
-- to help engineers and researchers verify the effectiveness of restraints
or safety belts. Before GM developed Hybrid I in 1968, dummy manufacturers
had no consistent methods to produce the devices. The basic weight and
size of the body parts were based on anthropological studies, but the dummies
were inconsistent from unit to unit. The science of anthropomorphic dummies
was in its infancy, and their production quality varied.
Some 30 years ago, GM researchers
created Hybrid I by merging the best parts of two primitive dummies. In
1966, Alderson Research Laboratories produced the VIP-50 series for GM
and Ford. It was also used by the National Bureau of Standards. This was
the first dummy manufactured specifically for the auto industry. Then,
in 1967, Sierra Engineering introduced Sierra Stan, a competitive model.
Neither satisfied GM engineers, who made their own dummy by combining the
best features of both -- hence the name Hybrid I. GM used this model internally
but shared its design with competitors through special committee meetings
at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Hybrid I was more durable
and produced more repeatable results than its predecessors.
The use of these early dummies was
sparked by U.S. Air Force testing that had been conducted to develop and
improve pilot restraint and ejection systems. From the late forties through
the early fifties, the military used crash test dummies and crash sleds
to test a variety of applications and human tolerance to injury. Previously
they had used human volunteers, but rising safety standards required higher
speed tests, and the higher speeds were no longer safe for human subjects.
To test pilot-restraint harnesses, one high-speed sled was propelled by
rocket engines and accelerated up to 600 m.p.h. Colonel John Paul Stapp
shared the results of Air Force crash-dummy research in 1956 at the first
annual conference involving auto manufacturers.
Later, in 1962, the GM Proving Ground
introduced the first, automotive, impact sled (HY-GE sled). It was capable
of simulating actual collision acceleration waveforms produced by full-scale
cars. Four years after that, in 1966, GM Research originated a versatile
method for determining the extent of injury hazard produced when measuring
impact forces on anthropomorphic dummies during laboratory tests.
Ironically, in the past forty years,
the auto industry has dramatically out-paced aircraft manufacturers in
this technical expertise. As recently as the mid-1990s, automakers worked
with the aircraft industry to bring them up to speed with the advances
in crash testing as related to human tolerance and injuries. NATO countries
were particularly interested in automotive crash research because there
were problems in helicopter crashes and with high-speed ejections of pilots.
It was thought that the auto data might help make aircraft safer.
thanks goes to Claudio Paolini
Dummy Photos - United States Department of Transportation
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