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Crash test dummy, England, 1980

Crash test dummy, England, 1980

Credits: Science Museum

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Crash test dummies have been developed to predict the dangers to human bodies during vehicle collisions and accidents. This type of testing is vital in establishing car safety. The dummies are exact replicas of the human body, including correct centres of gravity and fully articulated and weighted limbs. This dummy also has the ability to shrug its shoulders, which is important when testing seat belts. Ogle Design Limited produced a wide range of dummies from a three-year-old child to a range of adult male and female models. The data used for the models was based on research on the human body using cadavers – which have themselves been controversially used to test car safety in the past. The models were designed to be seated in a car but pedestrian models were also available.

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Glossary: crash test dummy

Crash test dummies are full-scale anthropometric test devices (ATD) that simulate the dimensions, weight proportions and articulation of the human body, and are usually instrumented to record data about the dynamic behavior of the ATD in simulated vehicle impacts. This data can include variables such as velocity of impact, crushing force, bending, folding, or torque of the body, and deceleration rates during a collision for use in crash tests. They remain indispensable in the development of and ergonomics in all types of vehicles, from automobiles to aircraft.