Consider the Cavalier to Cobalt to Cruze. The Safety improvements are momentous and it is only getting better.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Aug 27, 2012
Rear Impact Crash Dummy design by award-winning GM safety engineer could dictate the future of crash test safety for those not just the driver and passenger up front but passengers in the back as well.
Anyone remember the Chevrolet Cavalier whose last model year was 2005? Back on the pre-2011 National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests, it scored a reasonable 4 stars but earned just 1 star for front driver side crash protection. By the time the 2010 Cobalt was being put out to pasture (thankfully), GM was still earning 4 stars on that older NHTSA test but had increased those horrific drivers’ side crash test scores from 1 star to 4.
Enter 2011. Starting with 2011 models, NHTSA introduced much tougher tests and a more rigorous 5-Star Safety Ratings that provided more information about safety feature performance and crash avoidance technologies than ever before. GM was fortunately beginning to target “Best-in-Class” when it comes to making the safest cars not just in their luxury or expensive products but up and down the model line(s).
The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze was one such achiever. Going to 10-airbags including outboard rear seat bags as standard equipment, a feat no other compact manufacturer has yet decided to offer, the all-new Cruze was the first compact to score 5 stars on the tougher NHTSA crash tests. And it remained at the top until small redesigns to both the 2012 Civic and 2012 Elantra took their ratings from 4 to 5 stars as well. That said, if you are a rear seat passenger involved in a side impact of any sort, I would much rather be buckled into the back seat of a Chevrolet Cruze than any of its competitors. And I mean “ANY”!
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In a detailed safety release from GM this morning, they are following a similar progression of not taking prisoners while moving the safety bar for others to follow. This is so unlike GM of even 5-years ago and who would have thought that GM is now leading the research on the potential for the global auto industry to use a new dummy that would help all automakers and safety experts better understand how crash victims are hurt in rear impacts.
The dummy, called BioRID, was designed by Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden, for seat restraint assessment. It is distinguished by its sophisticated spinal column with 24 vertebra simulators that allow it to sit naturally and demonstrates humanlike neck movement in rear-end collisions.
To gain acceptance, BioRID needs to deliver repeatable, reproducible test results, which is considered integral to the design and evaluation of vehicle safety.
GM crash test engineer Barbara Bunn recently developed and conducted tests to evaluate the ability of different BioRIDs to produce consistent measurements when subjected to identical tests. The United States Council for Automotive Research in May recognized Bunn for her execution of the test matrix.
To create the test matrix, Bunn, who chairs the Occupant Safety Research Partnership’s Rear Impact Dummy Task Group, collaborated with engineers from Chrysler, Ford and Humanetics Innovative Systems, which manufactures the BioRID. She designed the construction of a crash simulator sled to simultaneously test four BioRIDs. She worked with safety engineers from Porsche, Volkswagen, Daimler, Chrysler and Ford to determine seating postures and other test criteria.
The tests subjected the dummies to a low-speed rear impact simulation in nearly identical seats, and collected measurements of crash forces on areas such as the upper and lower neck. The team compared its measurements to data from similar tests conducted by other automaker labs in Europe and provided its findings to regulators worldwide for consideration.
BioRID is one of many anthropomorphic test devices or ATDs that house sophisticated data collection sensors capable of generating status reports 10,000 times per second.
GM engineers analyze data from physical crash tests and computer simulations to understand how a vehicle, its safety systems and occupants respond during a crash. These data help engineers look for ways to enhance vehicle safety.
The efforts are evident across the GM’s product lineup. For the 2012 model year 14 Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC vehicles have been named 2012 Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (the also ran tests). Eleven 2012 models have received the coveted and toughest in the world 5-Star Overall Vehicle Scores in U.S. New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) testing administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That is not only exceptional but truly noteworthy.
GM Crash Test Engineer Barbara Bunn:
“Ultimately, every automaker wants to improve the crash dummies that we use to design safety into our vehicles. That way, all of our customers will benefit in the long run.”
Consider Barbara as well as hundreds if not thousands of GM engineers performing similarly to make their cars better than ever before and the person(s) who will benefit would be us.