Ford investing heavily in the Future of Child Car Safety

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Today car giant Ford announced that it is developing one of the world’s first digital human child body models as part of their program to make car travel for young people safer.

The company has won numerous awards for the safety of their cars and now wants to increase their knowledge of how to create a safe travel environment for people of all ages from adults to young children. Specifically focusing on the impact of injuries to younger travellers are different to those of older passengers.

Dr Stephen Rouhana, Senior Technical Leader for Safety at Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, said “Our restraint systems are developed to help reduce serious injuries and fatalities in the field, and they have proven to be very effective. But crash injuries still occur. The more we know about the human body, the more we can consider how to make our restraint systems even better.”

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Digital bodies are very hard to make, the work on Ford’s adult human body took a staggering 11 years to complete. They aren’t replacing test crash dummies, the digital bodies are used in research laboratories to further understand the effects of injuries caused by accidents and how they can be avoided.

The digital bodies take so long to create because a very large amount of information is included in every bone and organ included in the body and how it works and effected. The data is gathered with lots of different medical scans taken from patients, and the research team can build a perfect copy to research with.

With the child’s body Rouhana said, “Building a digital human model of a child will help us design future systems that offer better protection for our young passengers.”


Of course, test crash dummies are still used in testing and development, and they have been for the past 70 years with Ford, the original design being created for the US Airforce to test ejector seats in jet fighters. However more modern crash test dummies have vinyl skin, a steel ribcage, a spine made of metal discs, moveable neck and knees that are designed to respond like the human equivalent. No longer are they just plastic figures bent into shapes.

Each test dummy has a variety of sensors built into the surface of the object to record impact crashes and pressure levels,”Today’s crash test dummies are very complex devices, a Hybrid III costs approximately 34,000 Euros but with full instrumentation this can rise to more than 50,000 Euros.” explained Senior Engineer for Safety Jake Head

It is life saving research that the team are doing and with these more insightful tools and equipment researchers will be looking for way to save more lives in the future and make it safer for everyone in cars.

Greg Collins
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