TRC Leads New Auto Industry Consortium to Address Biomechanical Challenges and Injury Assessment Methods as Automated Driving Systems Revolutionize Car and Truck Desi

Consortium research is aimed at guiding passenger-safety improvements in all phases of automotive design and manufacturing

With advanced driver assistance systems fast becoming common in American cars and trucks, and with fully autonomous vehicles soon to come, a new consortium of the U.S. auto industry’s leading car makers and component suppliers is working to provide the research needed to inform the design for occupant safety that these vehicles will require.

The newly formed Research Consortium for Crashworthiness in Automated Driving Systems (RCCADS), with members including public and private sector entities, is led by the Transportation Research Center, Inc. (TRC), North America’s most advanced independent automotive testing facility.

“As automated driving systems continue to evolve and become more common on U.S. roadways, the automotive industry would benefit from a unified approach to help ensure that as vehicles become smarter, they will also be safer,” said Ron Burton, Chief of Staff at TRC. “There’s no question that occupant safety has improved tremendously since the 1970s, thanks to the efforts of the industry, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and several non-government entities,” he said.

“With a long history of continuing safety improvements, the challenge now is to maintain that momentum, because automated driving systems require new thinking about the design of occupant protection systems and other parts of a vehicle’s interior,” Burton said. “Consortium members are working together to generate the research to help ensure that vehicle interiors continue to meet the high standards of occupant safety that have evolved over the past half century.”

According to Burton, RCCADS members are collaborating to first understand what research is underway globally and then to identify gaps in the research that the consortium can fill. The consortium research agenda is centered around providing the biomechanical data that can be used to create guidelines for updating and improving tools and in defining injury risk.  As part of this effort, the consortium also seeks to understand the probable realistic future of non-standard seating configurations, restraints, and consumer seating preferences.

“As manufacturers and suppliers have been independently working on their new automated driving technologies, they have also realized that research on the interior of vehicles and passenger safety would benefit from a collaborative approach,” he said.