Jan. 11, 2000
Contact: Chris Curran


Cincinnati -- Researchers in the University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering have created a computer simulation of a standard highway crash test dummy which can be used to predict the severity of head and chest injuries during accidents.

Ala Tabiei, assistant professor in the department of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics, previously created a series of supercomputer simulations which show how different vehicles behave in guardrail collisions.

Those tests showed that large vehicles such as pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are more likely to snag on common guardrail systems and rollover.

In followup work, Tabiei has refined his vehicle models to include an entire suite of SUVs and added a virtual crash test dummy to measure the effects of an impact on humans inside the vehicles. The dummy has the same basic characteristics as a model known as "male Hybrid III," which represents an average-sized male (five-feet ten inches tall and weighing 170 pounds.) Then Tabiei added one more virtual tool to complete the simulation. "I put a virtual camera inside the truck," explained Tabiei while replaying one computer simulation. "It's to the left hand side of the dummy, so you can see how the dummy moves inside."

The results were disturbing. They showed the dummy's head striking the side window multiple times. Multiple impacts generally result in more severe injuries.

Tabiei's simulations also indicate that it doesn't matter which model of SUV or light truck is involved in the wreck. The results are the same.

"It doesn't matter. It's a series of these trucks. All of them show the same behavior."

There are industry standards already in place for head and chest injuries, and Tabiei uses them as guidelines in his simulations. For example, the Head Injury Criteria or HIC predicts the severity of head injuries. Any value of 1,000 or higher is considered fatal. For a margin of safety, the goal is to reduce the HIC to 600 or below. A similar index is used for chest injuries.

The overall goal of Tabiei's research is to reduce the number of actual crash tests which need to be performed and to help designers spot potential safety problems very early in the design process. That would lead to improved safety at greatly reduced costs.

The work is funded by the Federal Highway Administration and supported by the Ohio Supercomputer Center in Columbus. This work is being conducted through the Center of Excellence in DYNA3D Analysis.

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