The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers today presented to the National Highway Traffic safety Administration (NHTSA) two new advanced anthropomorphic test dummies representative of a small adult female and a six-year old child.

"These new high-tech test dummies will help improve air bag safety for a broad range of vehicle occupants," said Alliance president & CEO Josephine S. Cooper. "Safety for occupants of all sizes is a fundamental concern of the auto industry. These test devices, and others in development, will serve as vital tools for integrating and validating seat-based weight pattern sensors used in advanced air bag systems."

The Occupant Classification Anthropomorphic Test Devices(TM) (OCATD) were designed by First Technology Safety Systems (FTSS). Occupant Classification (OC) is a developing science driven by the need to suppress or modify the deployment of an air bag depending on the size of the seat occupant. The Alliance directly invested nearly $750,000 in the project.

Air bag systems must distinguish between an adult and a child. The technological challenge lies in developing surrogates for humans that accurately characterize the human features used by these OC sensors so that they effectively mimic a human-like weight distribution on the seating surface.

FTSS has contracted with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute to develop new anthropometry databases based on weight patterns and skeletal and body surfaces. Future products include test dummies that are representative of a ten-year old and a mid-size male.

OCATD is based on the LifeForm(TM) occupant simulator developed by Lear Corporation and FTSS in 1998 and 1999 under Lear's Bio-Fidelic Seating Surrogate Testing Initiative to create a more life-like device for seat durability tests. Sensors in the seat detect a pressure pattern created by the occupant, the goal of which is to distinguish between an adult and a child or between a human and a non-human object.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers represents companies that account for more than 90 percent of U.S. vehicle sales. Alliance member companies have more than 620,000 employees in the United States, with more than 250 facilities in 35 states.

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