Dearborn, Michigan – Ford has begun research into one of the world’s first digital human child body models, which could someday serve as a digital dummy for computer crash testing for safety technologies.

“We study injury trends in the field, and we know that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people from age one to 34,” said Dr. Steve Rouhana, senior technical leader for safety at Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “We want to better understand how injuries to younger occupants may be different.”

The work is the next step in Ford’s decade-long research to build a sophisticated and detailed computer adult human model, with body parts and organs replicated so scientists can better understand what happens to the adult body in a crash.

“Our restraint systems are developed to help reduce serious injuries and fatalities in the field, and they have proven to be very effective,” Rouhana said. “But crash injuries still occur. The more you know about the human body, the more we can consider how to make our restraint systems even better. A child’s body is very different from an adult’s. Building a digital human model of a child will help us design future systems that offer better protection for our young passengers.”

Digital models are used in research, not in vehicle development. They do not take the place of crash dummies, which measure the effect of forces on the body, but are used to understand how to further improve restraint  system effectiveness through better understanding of injury mechanisms.

Ford has contracted into a one-year agreement with China’s Tianjin University of Science and Technology, which is working with Tianjin Children’s Hospital, to obtain child geometry and basic body information from sources like MRIs and CAT scans provided by volunteers. All other information for the project will be obtained from public domain literature.

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