Q: Why does SENIORS still see potentials in passive instead of active vehicle safety systems which, more and more, are entering the market being able to avoid road traffic accidents?

R: Although active vehicle safety systems, especially emergency braking systems, promise a large potential to avoid or mitigate road traffic crashes, their market penetration requires time and further development loops are needed to tune them to deliver their full safety potential by also covering a wide range of realistic traffic scenarios. Remember, crashes are often unique incidents that are difficult to predict and where multiple parameters interact with each other in a very short time. SENIORS encourages innovative passive vehicle safety systems that will either act subsequently as part of the integrated safety or as the sole system operating in a high number of crashes. The project partners are convinced that adapted passive vehicle safety systems are required to reach the internationally set goals for the road injury statistics in near- to mid-term.

Q: Biomechanics is a key word in SENIORS. What is biomechanics and why is it required?

R: Related to humans, biomechanics is where mechanical engineering and biology meet, and describes the effects for the skeletal and musculature system as well as other organs under different loading conditions. In particular regarding crash loadings, there is still little known and related experiments are challenging. In SENIORS, the obtained data is transferred e.g. into numerical models and hardware test tools that allow continuing basic research and assessing safety systems more realistically. Without this knowledge, no specific injury estimates could be made. In general, far more biomechanical research is required to understand better the diversity of human response to crash loads and to be able to choose most effective measures in the road traffic safety area.

Q: How can computer simulations help to improve the safety of older road users?

R: SENIORS considers the latest crash and biomechanical information that allows to distinguish between younger and older road users. For example, the change of the rib cage by age, in particular regarding its material properties and geometry, is considered and allows the modification of finite element human body models towards more precise thorax injury predictions. These tools still require various development steps, but will definitely support the development of effective safety systems that finally helps both, older and younger road users.