Japanese automotive manufacturer Toyota last month expanded its range of virtual crash-test dummies by adding three new new models to replicate the physical characteristics of children aged three, six and ten.
The simulation software, known as Total Human Model for Safety (Thums), maps and mimics the injuries sustained by human bodies in vehicle crashes. It was developed by Toyota and its academic research partners in the US. The new software models will be offered for sale to other automotive manufacturers and research institutions later this year.
Thums can forecast the extent of likely injuries throughout the human body, providing a valuable tool in the development of passenger protection devices, such as airbags, and the design of safer vehicles.
The new child models are designed to represent the average physical characteristics of children at different ages, namely, 94 cm tall at three years, 118 cm at six and 138 cm at age ten. As with the models already available – including large and average-build males, as well as a small female – they will each be offered in two versions: a passenger and a pedestrian.
The software has undergone constant improvements and refinements since Version 1 of Thums was launched in 2000. For example, Version 2, released in 2003, added faces and bone structure to the models.
Version 3, launched in 2008, added a brain simulation and, in 2010, Version 4 was upgraded with detailed modelling of the brain and the addition of internal organs, pinpointing their placement and interaction within the body.
In 2015, Version 5 added simulated musculature, allowing the models to assume the same bracing positions that a human might just before an impact.
The new child models have been created through joint research between Wayne State University, the University of Michigan and the Collaborative Safety Research Centre at the Toyota Technical Centre, in Michigan.
Thums is used for a wide variety of purposes by carmakers, parts manufacturers and universities, both in Japan and overseas.
It contributes to research on safety technologies at Toyota, and other organisations worldwide. For example, it is used for the development of safer seat designs for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (known as Nascar) vehicles in North America.
With the ultimate goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and injuries, Toyota will use Thums to analyse the injuries sustained by passengers and pedestrians during collisions with and between vehicles, and to further research and improve safety technologies of all kinds.