General Motors is examining the use of a new crash test dummy in its own safety research. Called BioRID, the dummy has the potential to be used by the global auto industry at large and would help automakers and safety experts better understand how crash victims are hurt in rear impacts.
Designed for the purpose of assessing seat restrain by Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden, BioRID is set apart by its sophisticated spinal column with 24 vertebra simulators that allow it to sit naturally and exhibit humanlike neck movement in rear-end collisions. The dummy has yet to gain widespread acceptance, attained by achieving reproducible test results — a criteria considered integral to the design and evaluation of vehicle safety.
At GM, crash test engineer Barbara Bunn has recently developed and conducted tests that evaluate the ability of different BioRIDs to yield consistent measurements when subjected to identical tests. The automaker routinely conducts tests using a wide range of adult male-, female-, and child-size anthropomorphic test devices (ATDs) — the official name for crash test dummies. After conducting the physical crash tests as well as computer simulations, GM engineers analyze the data to gain a better understanding of the events that take place in the vehicle, its safety systems, and occupants during a crash — all in the name of enhancing vehicle safety.
And The General’s efforts are paying off — as fourteen 2012 model year Chevy, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC vehicles earned the Top Safety Pick title by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which includes rear impact testing among its criteria. In addition, eleven 2012 model year GM vehicles have received 5-star Overall Vehicle Scores in the U.S. New Car Assessment Program testing performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And if none of those decorations enable you to entrust in the safety of The General’s vehicles, then watching a crash test of a new Chevy Cruze back-to-back with a 1980 Chevy Citation should paint a relatively candid picture of the safety levels of today’s GM vehicles… and it should only get better from here given GM’s consistent efforts to improve the crash worthiness of its vehicles.