The IRCOBI conference (The International Research Council On Biomechanics of Injury) has always been very important for the SENIORS Project. It all started in 2015 in Lyon when the IRCOBI organizers provided all that was needed to organize a first workshop. In that workshop, Marcus Wisch, the project coordinator, David Hynd and Paul Lemmen presented what we wanted to do in the project. This was the start of an extremely fruitful discussion with the most relevant worldwide experts in the field of injury biomechanics.

Since that day, the relation with the experts from the IRCOBI network was quite active. A second meeting followed in Málaga and although no meeting was organized in Antwerp in 2017, many of the project partners took the chance of the IRCOBI conference to have bilateral discussions that later on defined some of the project activities and outcome.

The relevance of IRCOBI in the field of biomechanics is out of question and they have been organizing one of the most relevant biomechanics conferences worldwide since 1973. This is of special relevance for SENIORS as one of the main advancements expected were in this specific field. Therefore, we needed to understand from the best experts the best way forward. Finally this also fructified in specific collaborations between entities and share of data that was finally used in SENIORS.

All this ended this autumn, two days before the start of the 2018 IRCOBI conference. On September 10th we organized the SENIORS final event. More than 50 automotive safety experts attended including many industry representatives and other fellow researchers.

We presented the final results of the project in two parts: occupant safety and pedestrian and cyclist safety.

Occupant safety

The occupant safety session included the results on accident statistics, the Human Body Models (HBMs) used to assess the thoracic injury of elderly and the new simulation-based approach to cover a wider range of loading conditions. This new approach represents a significant step forward in integrating virtual tools to the safety systems development process. The use of HBMs for the development of injury risk curves only using simulation-paired tests is pioneering work in the automotive safety field. A main enabler to this work is the generic test rig also developed in SENIORS that enables to have the exact same testing conditions in simulation and physical testing and fosters future research as its design is fully open and public.

This approach enabled the development of injury risk curves for the thorax area and to new criteria to assess elderly safety in cars. These results along with the new test tools developed, such as the 3D printed elderly, overweight female dummy, led to the development of recommendations for frontal impact tests to be implemented in Euro NCAP and regulation.

After that, we had three high level speakers: Jason Forman from the University of Virginia (USA), Volker Sandner from ADAC (Germany) and Philipp Wernicke from BMW (Germany).

Dr. Forman explained the injury risk functions augmentation with HBMs and matching ATD simulations and the potential future use of the generic test rig developed within SENIORS. Mr. Sandner showed the status of the MPDB Euro NCAP Frontal Impact Test procedure (2020, 2022) with focus on use of THOR dummy and expressed the need for a moderate velocity (30-35 km/h) frontal impact test. Finally, Mr. Wernicke commented on the currently available THOR chest injury risk curves/criteria and the planned ACEA activities regarding THOR injury risk curves and criteria noting possible collaborations beyond SENIORS.

We were glad to see that the research community, the industry and the consumer association embraced the project results and are already implementing some of them.

Pedestrian and cyclist safety

During the second session of the event, Oliver Zander presented the results related to the Flex PLI with Upper Body Mass (FlexPLI-UBM) developed in SENIORS. This included the design, simulation and experimental tests, showing a great potential for future implementation in consumer tests. The main issue with the current Flex PLI is the kinematics shown in physical tests. SENIORS has proven that this can be solved by implementing an upper body mass. Additionally, Alba Fornells presented the main results on the Thoracic Injury Prediction Tool (TIPT) also developed in SENIORS. This impactor, developed from the base of a EuroSID-II is at a lower development stage and in SENIORS a feasibility study has been carried out. The impactor shows promising results in predicting thoracic injuries but further development is needed to improve the impactor kinematics and rib deflection readings.

After these presentations three other experts joined us and presented the latest results of their research. Jin Seop Park from Korean NCAP (Korea) presented the roadmap for future developments and implementations in this consumer test programme. After that, Peter Martin from NHTSA (USA) outlined of the current plans for NCAP and legislation in terms of vulnerable road user safety. Finally Takahiro Isshiki from JARI (Japan) showed the latest developments and technical aspects about the aPLI.

The event was quite a success and was a perfect reflection of what SENIORS has been: an open and collaborative process towards the advancement of automotive safety.

The relevance of these projects and the societal impact they have in the mid and long term are not enough emphasized. Research is needed in the automotive safety field, resources are still needed. Even if the safety community accomplished great results in reducing road fatalities in the past years, if we want to achieve Vision Zero we need to double the efforts because every improvement will be twice as hard as the previous one.

You can find all the presentations and materials from the final event here.