UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Utilizing the vehicle seat base for whiplash mitigation during rear-end collisions Figueira, Alicia DaSilva


Rear-end collisions are the most common type of automobile impact; whiplash is the predominant resulting injury which imposes a significant cost on victims, their families, and their employers. These costs include high medical expenses and major insurance claims, and result in lengthy absences from work, chronic pain, and suffering. There have been several advances leading to improved safety designs of the vehicle seat, the primary safety device for mitigating whiplash injuries. Although these advances have been beneficial, injuries continue to occur. Ideally, several safety devices, incorporating multiple seat components, should be utilized in order to compound their injury reduction effects. Currently, there is very little the seat base contributes to the safety of the occupant, therefore, there is considerable opportunity to increase safety through the redesign and use of the seat base. This research utilizes the seat base to implement energy absorbing aluminum foam as an intermediary material between the seat and the vehicle frame, which replaces their rigid connection. During a collision, the impact energy path will be interrupted and partially absorbed by the crushing foam. The relative motion between the seat and vehicle decreases the relative acceleration between the head and body, thereby reducing the peak force experienced by the occupant, and therefore the risk and severity of whiplash injuries. This research first developed a computer-based model of this concept and created a database of a variety of foam material properties through experimental testing. Using a model is a fast and inexpensive method, compared to building and physically testing various concepts, for predicting an occupant's dynamic response to an impact, and allows flexibility in the design of devices for individual vehicle manufacturers. The current research developed a physical prototype of the whiplash mitigating system, for the first time. Measurements from experimental tests were used to assess the effectiveness of the model in predicting the physical behaviour of the system, and of the concept behind the whiplash mitigating system. It was found that the concept has potential for reducing risk of injuries, however, the effectiveness of the model in predicting physical behaviour of an occupant needs improvement.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International