Insight into car performance
In order to validate the performance of vehicles in development, automotive OEMs need to test their vehicles in real-life situations. For this purpose, realistic driving conditions are created by simulating multiple passenger combinations in the vehicles undergoing the test. Sophisticated sensors and measurement devices are installed in the car to monitor its operation during the test drive. This provides good insight into the performance of the electrical and HVAC systems, the quality of the entire assembly, and potential changes affecting driver and passenger well-being.
In order to best simulate the impact of having passengers of various sizes in the car, passenger dummies with different weights are used. Previously, these dummies were filled with water, requiring dedicated filling stations and risking water spills inside the car. Because of the water handling and the bulky structures, test drivers were having to spend a lot of time installing the dummy correctly.
In the mid-80s Ford started to develop passenger dummies that could be loaded without water. The design of the dummy was gradually improved to meet increased requirements related to ergonomics, noise, flexibility, etc. Through its partner Profor-Wegner, Ford approached Indupol to bring this passenger dummy solution to a higher level, taking full benefit of testing experience gathered over the years. Key requirements for the dummy included low weight for easy handling, limited size so it also fits in smaller cars, functionality for adjusting passenger weight by putting lead elements inside the dummy, and the ability to simply attach the dummy to the safety belts inside the car. In addition, the dummies should not produce squeaking or rattling sounds, and above all, create a safe testing environment for the test driver or test engineer.
“A very important prerequisite for these passenger dummies is that they remain intact in an eventual car accident, so that the test driver is safe and does not get hurt,” explains Jens Wegner, Managing Director of Profor-Wegner. “In order to qualify a new dummy type, cars with dummies are going through a severe crash testing programme, with the requirement that the dummy remains undamaged and the lead inside remains perfectly in place.”
In consultation with AOC Aliancys and its distributor Euroresins, Indupol, Profor-Wegner and Ford developed a hollow dummy using high strength composite materials. The solution is based on AOC Aliancys’ Atlac 580 resin and is reinforced with an engineered fabric containing carbon fibre. The low weight of the composite components in combination with the optimised shape bring great ergonomics during handling. The mechanical strength and high ductility ensure that the lead elements remain inside the structure during a car crash situation, so that the test driver is safe. The surface of the dummy is covered with a special coating to avoid squeaks and rattling noises inside the car during driving, so the driver can hear sounds originating from other car components. Special parts are attached to the surfaces that connect to the seat belts inside the car.
Ford played a key role in validating the new dummy design at the Ford Proving Ground located in Lommel, Belgium. A wide variety of vehicle tests were performed with these dummies, including durability testing, performance and brake testing, NVH testing, suspension and steering development.
“AOC Aliancys and Euroresins have truly helped us find the best material solution for this application,” comments Hardy van Mierlo, Project and Operations Manager at Indupol. “We really like to work with these two partners, as they bring great insight in composite material performance and deliver high quality products we can rely on.”
“The initial testing at our launching customer demonstrated that the new design truly simplified life for the test drivers,” adds Jens Wegner. “The result is that now many automotive OEMs around the world are using these dummies, setting new standards in vehicle testing.”
Profor-Wegner, based in Cologne, Germany, handles the exclusive worldwide distribution of the Pro-dummy passenger dummies.
Industries: Automotive and Road Transportation