Anyone can be an ordinary dummy, whereas being a good crash-test dummy takes work. A few things you probably didn't know: the official name for a crash-test dummy is "anthropomorphic test device" (ATD), General Motors "has a long history" designing ATDs, and the process is so specialized that there's even a Rear Impact Dummy Task Group.

GM is working with five other OEMs on the dummies that help ensure humans stay as safe as possible in car crashes. The latest advance is the second generation of the Biofidelic Rear Impact Dummy, or BioRID II, designed by engineers at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden. It has a backbone with 24 simulated vertebrae (the same number we have in our real vertebral columns) to recreate natural seating positions and back and neck movement in rear collisions. The challenge now is to make sure that the BioRID II can "deliver repeatable, reproducible test results" from which the next advances in safety can be engineered.

That's where GM comes in. One of its award-winning engineers produced a rear-impact sled just for the purpose. To find out more about the secret life of ATDs, you'll want to check out the video and press release below.

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GM Leads Industry Evaluation of Rear Impact Crash Dummy
Tests led by award-winning GM safety engineer could help determine future use of BioRID

DETROIT, 2012-08-27 – General Motors, which has a long history of crash test dummy design, is leading research on the potential for global auto industry use of a new dummy that would help automakers and safety experts better understand how crash victims are hurt in rear impacts.

The dummy, called BioRID, was designed by Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden, for seat restraint assessment. It is distinguished by its sophisticated spinal column with 24 vertebra simulators that allow it to sit naturally and demonstrates humanlike neck movement in rear-end collisions.

To gain acceptance, BioRID needs to deliver repeatable, reproducible test results, which is considered integral to the design and evaluation of vehicle safety.

GM crash test engineer Barbara Bunn recently developed and conducted tests to evaluate the ability of different BioRIDs to produce consistent measurements when subjected to identical tests. The United States Council for Automotive Research in May recognized Bunn for her execution of the test matrix.

"The test matrix Barb developed will be helpful to the industry for determining BioRID's future, and demonstrates GM's commitment to advancing crash test dummy technology and procedures for evaluating vehicle safety," said Gay Kent, GM general director of Vehicle Safety and Crashworthiness.

To create the test matrix, Bunn, who chairs the Occupant Safety Research Partnership's Rear Impact Dummy Task Group, collaborated with engineers from Chrysler, Ford and Humanetics Innovative Systems, which manufactures the BioRID. She designed the construction of a crash simulator sled to simultaneously test four BioRIDs. She worked with safety engineers from Porsche, Volkswagen, Daimler, Chrysler and Ford to determine seating postures and other test criteria.

The tests subjected the dummies to a low-speed rear impact simulation in nearly identical seats, and collected measurements of crash forces on areas such as the upper and lower neck. The team compared its measurements to data from similar tests conducted by other automaker labs in Europe and provided its findings to regulators worldwide for consideration.

BioRID is one of many so-called anthropomorphic test devices, or ATDs, the formal name for crash test dummies. GM routinely tests with a wide range of adult male-, female- and child-size ATDs that house sophisticated data collection sensors, capable of generating status reports 10,000 times per second.

GM engineers analyze data from physical crash tests and computer simulations to understand how a vehicle, its safety systems and occupants respond during a crash. These data help engineers look for ways to enhance vehicle safety.

The efforts are evident across the GM's product lineup. For the 2012 model year 14 Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC vehicles have been named 2012 Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which includes rear impact testing among its criteria for Top Safety Pick. Eleven 2012 models have received 5-Star Overall Vehicle Scores in U.S. New Car Assessment Program testing administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"The execution of the BioRID test matrix couldn't have been done without a strong spirit of collaboration," Bunn said. "Ultimately, every automaker wants to improve the crash dummies that we use to design safety into our vehicles. That way, all of our customers will benefit in the long run."

About GM
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM's brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at

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