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Crash test dummies at work: Videos take viewers behind the scenes at the IIHS crash test lab

ARLINGTON, Va., July 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/


"New web videos from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offer an insider's look at the Institute's crash test facility in Ruckersville, Va.  In "Inside IIHS," engineers at the IIHS Vehicle Research Center explain crash test programs and highlight some of the equipment they use in their research. The videos include, "Crash test dummies at work," "Frontal offset testing," "Measuring roof strength," "The crash propulsion system," "Rating children's booster seats" and "Side testing."

In the latest video, engineers put truck underride guards to the test.  Underride guards are steel bars that hang from the backs of semitrailers to keep smaller vehicles from sliding underneath in a crash. When they don't work, the consequences can be deadly.

"Inside IIHS: Understanding underride" explains that IIHS embarked on this program after researchers found that underride crashes continued to kill people in passenger vehicles despite big improvements in crash protection. That's because a passenger vehicle's structure and airbags can't do their job when underride occurs. The video shows how the tests were conducted and explains the results, which demonstrated that most trailers still need better guards.

The eight videos in the "Inside IIHS" series are available on the IIHS YouTube channel.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries and property damage — from crashes on the nation's roads.

Tucked in the foothills of central Virginia, the state-of-the-art Vehicle Research Center is where IIHS performs the crash tests that form the basis of its widely consulted vehicle ratings."





Recent Advancements in Crash Animations Make Them Affordable

By: Sam Terry, April 2012

It is no secret that a 3D crash animation can be a powerful tool to help present a winning case by making a strong and lasting impression on your audience.  It is the piece that connects the physical and human evidence, photographs, and expert opinion together.  It ties them together and presents them as a demonstrative exhibit that reveals, in just a few seconds, how the crash initiated and what ensued.

The terms "animation" and "simulation" have been utilized interchangeably, however, there are many significant differences between the two.  In a broad sense, a simulation is a physics based analytical tool.  By comparison, an animation is a demonstrative tool that should be presented as such for admittance purposes.

Even simple intersection collisions can have complex dynamics, therefore the 3D animation's basic purpose is to illustrate expert opinions that are often tough to visualize.  Animations are extremely powerful for revealing event timing, perception/reaction timing (PRT), and the driver's sight capability, including any obstructed views.  However, the true magic is that animations allow the same incident to be viewed from an infinite number of vantage points, including those documented by witnesses or bystanders.

It has been proven that animations have powerful influential abilities in the courtroom.  But, traditionally, 3D animations were reserved for big-budget cases due to their time-consuming nature and hefty price tag.  Not any longer.  Recent advancements in technology, including the elimination of several time-intensive steps, has allowed a crash reconstructionist to significantly reduce the efforts, and corresponding costs, necessary to produce animations.

Historically, 3-dimensional data compiled during the site inspection survey was utilized to generate a 2-dimensional, scaled site drawing that revealed the roadway geometry and surrounding features.  Then, if an animation was desired, the 2D drawing became the first step and the backbone for the animation.  Then the animator would create all of the required 3D objects to create the virtual environment.  Today, many animation software programs operaARAS 360te exclusively in a 3D environment, thereby eliminating the need for the 2D preparatory step.  The software utilizes a Google Earth image of the subject area and "drapes" the image over the 3-dimensional survey points that were collected during the inspection survey.  The finished product is a Google image of the site in a 3D environment that reveals stunning topography along with the accuracy of a total station.

Las Vegas has an advantage over other cities because it benefits from Google Earth's highest resolution of 15 cm (6 inches), thus allowing for a cleaner, more detailed final product.  The screen shot [to the right] is from an animation showing a nighttime accident where a commercial truck was coming down an overpass.  It reveals the location of the subject automobile when the driver decided to accelerate from the stop line.  The landscape was created from a Google image and draped over the 3D survey data collected during the site inspection.  The roadway, landscape and topography took less than an hour to create utilizing today's modern animation tools.  Prior to the latest technology, the same animation would have taken 2 long days to create and would not have contained the level of detail provided by the Google Earth-based template.

Processing power from modern computers is credited for saving time and avoiding loss of data.  Fifteen years ago, animators would finish the animation and set the computer to render overnight.  Often, the animator would return the next morning to find that the computer had "crashed" during the night.  Today the animation is largely rendered into its near final state in real time, then the animator "drags and drops" models, e.g., buildings, trees, vehicles, etc., into the virtual accident site to give the scene a realistic look.  Ten years ago it was not uncommon for animations to cost $30,000 - $50,000.  With today's recent developments in animation software, a basic animation could cost as little as 10% of what it did 10 years ago.  With the time and cost-saving advancements, animation effectiveness is no longer reserved for the big case bound for trial and is also used as an affordable, powerful bargaining tool in settlement discussions.


- from Attorney at Law Magazine, Greater Las Vegas.  April 2012.