Ford Drives Forward Safety Research

This is not a picture of the forbears of Blue Man Group: Rather, it is a circa 1955 photo from the archives of Ford Motor Company.

This is not a picture of the forbears of Blue Man Group:

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Rather, it is a circa 1955 photo from the archives of Ford Motor Company. Specifically, from the file cabinet labeled “Safety.”

FERD is an acronym: Ford Engineering Research Dummy.

Yes, a crash test dummy.

This is a picture of a digital model of an adult human:

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Think of it as FERD’s virtual brother from the future.

This model was created under the direction of Ford’s Dr. Jesse Ruan, a biomechanics researcher in its Research and Advanced Engineering. Work began on this model in 1993.

Work wasn’t complete until 2004. It was painstaking work. As Dr. Stephen Rouhana, senior technical leader for Safety at Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, “Building the model of a person is just like building the model of a car. You start with your surface geometry for each component and any subcomponent it contains—in this case the geometry of the human body and its internal organs.”

And it isn’t merely a case of creating the geometry, as this actually works as a system such that when they use it to simulate crashes, they are able to see the interactions of the forces on the various organs.

Unlike FERD, these models aren’t used in crash tests. They have created other digital models for that, as well as significantly advanced physical models. A whole extended family of physical models, in fact:

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In an on-going effort to better understand the interactions of humans and cars and restraint systems, Rouhana says that they’ve undertaken the development of a digital model of a child—skeletal structure, internal organs, brain.

If it took some 11 years for the adult model, what about the child? “It will less time than adult human body model,” Rouhana answers. “Significantly less. Perhaps as little as 5 years. The only reason I’m hedging is because, getting material properties is vital and difficult it is difficult to do. People don’t donate their child’s body to science for material property studies.”

So one of the means they’re taking to accelerate the acquisition of pertinent materials information is through a one-year agreement with the Tianjin University of Science and Technology in China, which is working with the Tianjin Children’s Hospital. Data will be obtained from sources including MRIs and CAT scans.