Contributions to standards and regulations
The Hybrid-III was developed in the seventies and is based on biomechanical knowledge from that time. The dummy has hardly been changed since then. Research within the FID project has shown important deficiencies of the dummy with respect to its biofidelity, i.e. human-likeness. The dummy is not sufficiently able to assess the protection offered to the occupant during a frontal impact. The FID consortium concluded that the performance of a new frontal impact dummy, THOR NT, developed in the USA has potential as a new frontal impact dummy, but a number of body areas of the dummy need to be improved, among which the THORAX. Within this project, biomechanical know-how on thoracic injury mechanisms will be generated and implemented in a demonstrator version of the THOR dummy.
Interrelations with other projects
To realize the targets for road safety in the future, the participants of THORAX firmly believe that it is necessary to integrate at European level the research capacities currently existing or emerging at both national and regional level. Therefore THORAX is a partner of the coordination and support action “COVER” which is meant to bring together a number of initiatives directly dealing with biomechanics. The involved projects include CASPER (Medium Scale Project dealing with child safety), EPOCh (Medium Scale project dealing with the development of a Q10 / Q12 dummy) and THOMO (Medium scale project dealing with the development of human body models). These projects cover a broad range of research topics in the field of biomechanics addressing the development of numerical and experimental tools for the design and evaluation of vehicle safety systems. As depicted in figure 1 various age groups are considered. Under the implementation of COVER these projects will regularly be monitored and assisted for a harmonized and consistent direction of research.
figure 1: Biomechanics Projects in COVER
The objectives of the project are more efficiently addressed at the European level than at national or local level mainly because vehicle and road safety is a European (and even worldwide issue). Most standardization and homologation of vehicle safety measures are being prepared in European frameworks like the EEVC (European Enhanced Vehicle Safety Committee). European governments, research and industry have to act as one in providing know-how and tools that serve as a solid basis for future harmonized regulations and consumer tests (EuroNCAP). The participation of several industrial partners as well as the involvement of important stakeholders in the TAG (EEVC WG12, SAE THOR, OSRP and JARI) and PRG (EEVC SC and GRSP) safeguards the implementation of the project's end result on a European and world-wide scale. An equally broad and competent consortium (6 leading research institutes, 4 industrial parties incl. the organization representing the German car manufacturers (AUDI, BMW, DC AG, PORSCHE and VW) was not found possible in a single Member State.
In addition to the above it can be indicated that the development costs of the project certainly exceed the financial capabilities of a national group of institutes and manufacturers.
Involvement of stakeholders
Success of the Thorax initiative is for a large share depending on the relation with the policy-makers world-wide acting in the field of Crash Safety. The project structure as depicted in figure 8 should ensure good communication and acceptance of results at different levels within relevant stakeholders. For this purpose the EEVC WG12 Biomechanics and Dummies will participate in the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) that, amongst others, will advise the project Executive Board in refining activities based on project findings and results; forward project findings and results to policy makers and bodies involved in consumer testing; ensures communication and co-ordination with other ongoing projects and initiatives in this field. Project results will be forwarded to the EEVC Steering Committee members and GRSP for peer review and definition of policy recommendations.
The THORAX participants are convinced that significant reductions in fatalities and injuries can be achieved by implementing the project findings and results in future regulatory and rating procedures for vehicle safety. However, the benefit of the THORAX results will not become visible in short term (before 2010 as the project will not be finalised before this date) because of the pre-competitive nature of the research proposed here and the fact that actual implementation of project results and findings into regulations normally have a long lead time. Forecasting the contribution of THORAX to the casualty and injury reduction is a rather difficult and imprecise process. In the Advanced Passive Safety Network (APSN) "Secondary Safety Research Action Plan", 2006, it is estimated that the development of new test methods and tools for passive safety systems reduce the fatalities and seriously injured in most common road accidents by 15-20 % in 2020 in addition to the existing general trend (total about 25%). Although this number results from contributions of several crash modes (front, side, read and rollover) ultimately a higher percentage is expected for the THORAX project based on the fact that the developed know-how and demonstrator tools will also serve as basis for integrated vehicle safety systems. Here the link to the ASSESS project is essential. For such systems APSN expects an additional effect of a 15%-20% reduction in car fatalities by 2015 if adequate test methods and tools are available to allow widespread introduction of these systems.