Motion and Muscle Activation of Young Volunteers in Evasive Vehicle Maneuvers

Quantify key occupant responses (kinematics and muscle activity) to evasive swerving and emergency braking using both adult and child subjects on a test track.

The Problem 

With increased active safety and automated vehicle technologies becoming more available to customers today and in the future, it may be more likely for vehicles to avoid crashes before they occur. In the event that vehicles employing automated evasive maneuvers may not be able to avoid a crash, it is critical that occupants be in a optimal upright seated position at the moment of impact that minimizes injuries. 

The Question 

How can we properly engineer the tools necessary to enhance current crash protection technologies -- such as software models and crash dummies -- in order to understand how people physically respond in evasive vehicle maneuvers?

What We Did 

Volunteers from four age groups, ranging from six years old to 46 years old, were recruited to ride in the rear seat of a modern sedan driven by a professional driver on a closed course. Different maneuvers were used to investigate the kinematics of how occupants moved, along with muscle activity, during evasive maneuvers. Kinematics were measured using a multi-camera array and optical targets, while muscle activity was measured using wireless electromyography (EMG).

The Result:

As a result of this study, we were able to determine the following: 

  1. Braking force and pulse has an effect on where occupants are positioned, even in scenarios where vehicle speed and peak braking force are similar.
  2. The range of responses for different occupants is not closely tied to occupant age group.
  3. Younger occupants have a tendency use their neck muscles more actively than adults, which will be used to inform future computer models in this line of research.

This is a project in collaboration with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia