For something commonly called a "dummy," the mannequins used in crash tests are surprisingly sophisticated and so specialized that they're not much use out of automotive safety labs. When the US Army went looking for a dummy of its own, it had to go back to square one by awarding a contract to California-based Diversified Technical Systems (DTS) to help develop the first instrumented dummy designed for military vehicle blast testing.

Dummies are common stand-ins for people in testing not only cars, but also arcticwear, radiation protection, fireproof garments, pedestrian safety systems, and crash helmets, as well as medical research. But until now, a sensor-equipped dummy for studying the effects of blasts on the occupants of military vehicles has been lacking.

To make up for this, the Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin (WIAMan) was conceived. A project under the US Army Research Development and Engineering Command, the WIAMan combines military casualty data from Iraq and Afghanistan with new biomedical sensors to create a new mannequin to study combat blast effects on the human body in a vehicle and the resulting injuries.

An ARS3 PRO sensor in an automotive crash dummy to demonstrate just how compact the sensors are

Test dummies are designed to test specific things, such as temperature, fire, impact, toxins, sweating, and others. Automotive crash dummies, for example aren't suitable for blast testing because they're engineered specifically for front and side vehicle impacts, while the WIAMan must measure underbody blasts waves, such as those caused by mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

DTS has developed many sensors and recorders that can fit inside special dummies that simulate the size, articulation, and weight distribution of the human body. As an example, the ARS3 PRO is easy to embed in small spaces of a dummy, where it can measure and record data without outside cables. It measures just 19 x 19 x 12.5 mm (0.75 x 0.75 x 0.49 in) and weighs only 9 g (0.35 oz).

The DTS Slice Nano recorder

The sensor can work with the DTS Slice Micro or Nano data recorders, which are equally compact – with the 9-channel Slice Nano capable of holding 16 GB while taking up less than a cubic inch of space.

The WIAMan dummy is based in part on DTS' first in-dummy data acquisition system (DAS) developed for the WorldSID (Worldwide harmonized Side Impact Dummy); an automotive impact dummy. According to the company, moving the sensors and recorders inside the dummy greatly improved data fidelity and test set-up efficiency.

Source: DTS (PDF)

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