A New Approach To Car Safety:
The Moving Seat
NEW YORK, Dec. 15, 1997 -- Researchers at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, are working on a new approach to automobile safety based on a moving seat that reduces the effect of a collision on the passenger.
Instead of the conventional seat which is bolted rigidly to the automobile chassis, the new seat under investigation features an attachment through a computer-based actuator. At impact the seat moves in the direction specified by the actuator, reducing the effect of the crash on the passenger.
"The motion allows some of the energy of the crash to be absorbed by the system," explains Nabeel Tarabishy, Ph.D., a visiting professor at the institute and member of ASME International (American Society of Mechanical Engineers).
Dr. Tarabishy and his colleagues have created computer models and simulations showing the dynamics of a human passenger in the moving seat during a collision. Based on the data, the researchers believe that a moving seat can make a 35 mile-per-hour impact feel only like a 23 mile-per-hour jolt, thereby reducing potential head injury.
Dr. Tarabishy says that further research will be required to address ways in which the moving seat may be synchronized with air bags. The researchers also admit that their computer models are simple and very preliminary, meaning sled tests are necessary to determine implementation issues.
Dr. Tarabishy believes that automobile companies may be able to justify the high costs associated with new safety designs because "more and more customers are demanding safer cars." The moving seat can also be built into trucks and airplanes, says Tarabishy.
Dr. Tarabishys research -- involving such phenomena as energy absorption, dynamic systems and control, and computer-aided design -- demonstrates the contribution engineers make to human safety each and every day. National Engineers Week celebrates these contributions.