As any 9-year-old with a Lego set can tell you, it’s easy to build things for destruction. The challenge for grown-ups designing crash-test dummies is to create something highly technical that can recover from one collision to be used in the next. “We don’t break bones,” says Steve Moss, technical director of First Technology Safety Systems, which is
just starting production of the World Side Impact Dummy, or WorldSID. “Everything is required to deform the way a human would, without breaking like a human does.”
Developed over 12 years by designers on four continents, WorldSID is the first internationally accepted side-impact crash-tester. He arrives as pressure increases on car makers to address side-impact safety. And
at $250,000 fully loaded, he’s no cheap date.
WorldSID takes up to 212 sensors, head to ankle, that measure acceleration, force and deflection. Internal memory boards store 64 channels of data at 1,000 times per second. The results go to five internal data-collection boxes.
Head injuries account for half of all side-impact fatalities. The seamless construction of his skull is revolutionary—it eliminates unnatural splitting.
The main impact point for the lower body. A load cell between the head of the femur and the hip socket can predict fracture.
Instead of the old single-shell cage, he has one shoulder rib, three thorax ribs and two in the abdomen—invaluable for gauging organ injuries. Each rib is made of superstrong, superelastic nickel titanium and bonded with a tar-like damping material to simulate the mushy combo of bones and organs. The ribs deflect 75mm, because if yours move 50mm, you’re dead. All of his parts
are made to exceed human fatality thresholds by 50 percent.
Double-axis ankles give him human range of motion. Foot and leg injuries tend
to require years of rehab.
Bones are aircraft-grade aluminum sheathed in dense vinyl “flesh.” Except for the legs, average male height is constant around the world; Japanese men are slightly shorter from the waist down.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.