Restraint and Seat Testing

Since its inception, ARCCA has always relied on research as a means of advancing the state-of-the-art relating to occupant crash protection. Often such research projects are conducted as a collaborative effort among biomechanics, crashworthiness, failure analysis and accident reconstruction experts.

ARCCA crashworthiness engineers are skilled at conducting a variety of tests, including full- scale dynamic crash testing, sled testing, drop testing and static and quasi static testing. Test fixtures, as well as some of the test prototypes, are built in house by our highly skilled fabricators using our onsite machine shop.

A standard injury reduction process is followed for our research projects including:

  • Analyzing injury case data to identify injury trends
  • Conducting biomechanical analyses to identify the mechanism(s) of the injuries
  • Researching and identifying countermeasures to the injury mechanisms using engineering hierarchy:
    • Redesigning the hardware to eliminate or minimize the hazard
    • Developing and incorporating guards to protect from the hazard
    • Developing effective warnings and instructions mitigate the hazard
    • Developing and providing training to workers/users re how to minimize the hazard.

Examples of research projects involving seat belts and airbags:

Ambulance Crash Safety

ARCCA was contracted by the National Institute Occupant Safety and Health (NIOSH) to develop and test restraints for use by occupants in the rear of ambulances. Most ambulances built in North America prior to 2008 incorporated fixed, 2-point lap belts in the rear seating positions. The geometry of this work environment, coupled with the assigned tasking, often compel the worker to remove his lap belt to attend to the patient. In an effort to improve this worker safety issue, NIOSH collaborated with the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command and the Canadian Forces Health Services Group Headquarters to conduct a testing and evaluation program of four commercial-off-the-shelf mobile restraint options. In total, a combined 33 front, side, and rear impact sled and crash tests were conducted to evaluate the ability of each mobility restraint system to provide occupant protection to the occupants of the ambulance patient compartment. Results from this study indicate mobile restraints offer a unique opportunity to improve worker safety in this challenging work environment.

Development of the Common Crashworthy Occupant Protection System (CCOPS) for the United States Army

This project was the culmination of the work from multiple contracts with the U.S. Army. The first was to develop a “well-defined” prototype occupant crash protection system to counter the identified injury threats and demonstrate its effectiveness through testing and simulation. The second objective was to develop a computer-based, web-compatible multi-media occupant crash protection development guide to present the principles of occupant crash protection in the military operational environment.

The development guide is an electronic medium that provides guidance and appropriate reference material, as well as insight into the field of occupant crash protection, to Army program and acquisition managers, developers of operational requirements, system safety engineers, and project engineers.

The final stage of the project was to develop a working seating system that was put through a full battery of dynamic testing.

Dual Stage Variable Load Energy Absorber (DSVEA)

The DSVEA project was funded by the U.S. Army to help reduce injuries to seated occupants whose vehicle is exposed to a blast. The U.S Army and U.S. Marines have a requirement for blast resistant seating to protect the occupants of ground vehicles. Current seating systems used by the United States military do not fully protect the occupant during IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) blasts or the subsequent “slam down” (slam down is an event which occurs following a blast when the vehicle returns to the ground). IEDs provide wide variability that often voids the current protection limits.

The Dual Stage Variable Energy Absorber (DSVEA) is an advanced approach to dealing with the multiple shock events that are prevalent during today’s warfare. It is a powerful and useful technology that needs to be specifically and appropriately integrated into the ground vehicle environment. The DSVEA responds to a variety of input blast conditions, adjusts to a full range of weighted subjects and is able to handle both the blast and the slam down phases without creating a bottoming out condition. It also integrates with seat belts attached to the seated surface so that the movement of the seat under blast conditions will not cause the belts to go slack and create a larger hazard during the post blast slam down. It is critical that any seating system incorporated into a ground vehicle expected to be exposed to IED and mine blast events include a restraint system mounted to the seat structure and a seat bottom that, at least, manages the amplification factor of the loading input so as to readily accept DSVEA.