Advanced passive vehicle systems complement active ones in saving lives on Europe’s road, according to European researchers.
At a recent event in Amsterdam, the European APROSYS project showed off some of its results in the field of Advanced Protection Systems for road users. Demonstrations included a crash-test dummy that better mimics side-impact injuries to women, a safety jacket for motorcyclists, new vehicle and infrastructure design criteria, and advanced protection systems for road users.
While another EU-funded project, PReVENT, dealt with active safety systems designed to help motorists avoid accidents, APROSYS focused mainly on passive systems that minimise damage or help prevent injury due to an accident.
The two projects formed part of the EU’s integrated approach to making Europe’s roads safer. Other projects, such as CVIS, Safespot, eCall and EASIS, tackled related aspects of road safety.
Accidents on Europe’s roads led to 43,000 deaths and 1.2 million injuries in 2007. The EU wants to cut the number of fatalities to about 25,000 a year.
Dummy for side-impact crashes
On display at the APROSYS project’s closing event, on 17-18 February, in the Dutch city was a new dummy prototype for testing injuries to small females in side-impact crashes. The APROSYS design will feed into the worldwide, harmonised standards for side-impact crash dummies (WorldSID).
The use of a standardised test dummy, being developed by the International Standards Organisation, would help increase passenger safety by providing researchers and international automakers with improved simulations of human responses in collisions. It would also serve as a tool for developing safer vehicle designs.
The APROSYS researchers also developed a new thorax protector for motorcyclists, which is expected to appear on the market at the end of this year or early 2010. Developed by Dianese, a partner in the project, the padded vest protects the cyclist’s back and spine in the event of a fall or crash.
Another passive system developed in the project was a car with a bonnet that pops up slightly when an airbag is released across the windshield on impact with a vulnerable road user. The added cushion of the bonnet and the airbag are designed to reduce head injuries to pedestrians hit by a car.
Resistant to crumpling
The researchers also demonstrated a sensing system to determine when a crash is imminent, and an actuator that shoots out against the inside of a car door to make it more resistant to crumpling in on occupants. They also developed a model of a truck with a special front designed to prevent pedestrians who are hit from going under the vehicle. Crash victims are instead warded off to the truck’s side, where they are more likely to survive.
As part of their contribution to testing methods and standards, the APROSYS consortium also worked on some aspects of human biomechanics. For example, the researchers studied how different bumper heights can affect damage to a leg on impact. The data and the leg model will add to the information available to testers assessing the front sections of cars, including the types of injuries sustained.
New mathematics of the human body
They also developed new mathematical models of the human body to better mimic the way it reacts just before a crash and during impact. The models also use new injury data that can help to improve the vehicle design process.
Among many other results, APROSYS partners developed a generic methodology to assess intelligent safety systems, such as sensor and actuator technologies.
APROSYS had a total budget of €30 million, including €18 million from the EU. It involved a consortium of research organisations, manufacturers and vehicle suppliers from across Europe, and ran for five years to the end of March 2009. And PReVENT had a budget of over €50 million and 56 partners.
The current EU framework funding programme for research, FP7, is working to integrate traditional divisions in road safety research into a more coordinated approach. This will mean the inclusion of ‘softer’ sciences in the research programme, such as user's behaviour, ergonomics, accidentology, as well as the inclusion of all road vehicles other than private cars.
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