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New crash test dummies to simulate fat, ageing drivers

Everybody knows that America suffers from obesity and has an aging population. These alterations to American society have led car developers having to change the humble crash test dummy. 

Humanetics, producers of crash test dummies, have begun crafting dummies that represent these groups — in particular dummies modeled on the obese and very old. They already have a 273-pound dummy that has a Body Mass Index of 35 and are working on an age-appropriate prototype.

The research makes perfect sense. According to Chris O’Connor, CEO of crash dummy producer Humanetics: “Obese people are 78 percent more likely to die in a crash. The reason is the way we get fat. We get fat in our middle range. And we get out of position in a typical seat.”  

The chance of serious injury occurring increases by 20 percent for drivers over 50 and 40 percent for octogenarians.

However, this dummy work could prove to be pretty pointless. 

Dr. Joel Stitzel, director of Wake Forest University’s Center for Injury Biomechanics, told CNN: “The way the industry is going is more towards computational modeling. It allows manufacturers to see things that dummies can’t tell them, and they can more easily modify virtual models, such as adding subcutaneous fat to simulate larger people.” 

The rationale behind this approach is obvious. Although computational modeling costs more at first, this method will eventually save on the cost of modern dummies, which can cost up to $500,000 per model.

Whatever your thoughts on physical vs computerised dummies, we can’t deny the fact that the sight of overweight crash test dummies is always going to put a smile on your face. 

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