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Advanced Protection Systems (APROSYS)

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Reducing the impact

Although European casualties due to traffic accidents have decreased dramatically within the last 20 years due to a variety of new technologies and legislative measures, in 2008 alone nearly 39,000 people lost their lives in road accidents. An EU-funded project made numerous important contributions to decreasing casualties on European roads with potential economic benefit as well – as consumers would agree, safety sells.

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The European Commission has set ambitious road safety goals for reducing these statistics. The ‘Advanced protection systems’ (Aprosys) project was designed to advance the state of safety systems with a focus on passive ones, shown to be among the most important and effective means of reducing the load on the human body during an accident. The team members extended this to include active strategies, or so-called intelligent systems, that use pre-crash information to respond to the crash in ways that further protect humans from injury and death. Combined passive and active safety mechanisms are known as integrated safety. The comprehensive study included evaluation of car, truck, pedestrian, bicycle and motorcycle accidents and combinations of these. The researchers developed new models for injury biomechanics including pre-crash human body models, effects of age and gender and newly available brain data. The studies led to the development of a new international standard small female crash dummy for side impacts called WorldSID 5th. The Aprosys team developed an intelligent (adaptive) system for sensing an imminent side impact and activating a side door structure whose shape change slows the impact and decreases its impact distance into the car. In addition, the researchers developed a methodology for testing the efficiency and effectiveness of adaptive systems which had not previously been addressed although integrated safety systems have become widely accepted. The investigators developed guidelines for extending virtual testing in vehicle safety from the design phase to the regulatory environment. They also developed a full width frontal impact test to complement the existing partial overlap test. Finally, they developed new protection systems for vulnerable road users such as a safety bar add-on for trucks and a windshield airbag to protect pedestrians. The Aprosys project made many important contributions to the state of the art in integrated road safety. Given that safety is a proven selling point, enhanced safety has the potential to lead to a boost in the economy. The positive impact on reduced casualties should not be long in coming.

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