The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

GM Crash Test Dummy Donated to Smithsonian

July 14, 2010

WASHINGTON - A General Motors crash test dummy, whose 15 years of service included scores of full-vehicle crash tests and a host of special assignments, will spend a peaceful retirement in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. 

The donation of 50H-1, an anthropomorphic test device (ATD), is part of a museum project to collect materials related to technological advancements in the auto industry to improve safety features. The ATD will be part of a collection that also includes costumes and props from the Vince and Larry safety belt PSA campaign by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council. 

"GM's leading role in the development of crash test devices over the decades makes it fitting that one of our crash veterans become part of the Smithsonian's collections," said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of safety policy. "With all that we have learned from him over the years, it almost seems unfair to call 50H-1 a dummy." 

Though not as talkative as Vince and Larry, 50H-1 is significant because he represents the dummy most used in U.S. automotive crash testing. His title refers to the Hybrid III ATD representing a typical male adult in the 50th percentile for height and weight. 

"GM developed the Hybrid III dummy design in the 1980s and shared the patents with government and industry," said Jack Jensen, a GM Technical Fellow and engineering group manager who supervises GM's ATD lab at the Milford Proving Ground. "This is the dummy most widely used in crash testing across the U.S." 

Just since 2007, 50H-1 has been used in more than 50 tests designed to improve the safety of Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac cars, trucks and crossovers. 50H-1 is intimately familiar with the Barrier Crash Facility, known as Building 61, at Milford. It was among the first dummies used in rollover crash testing when the $10 million addition opened in late 2006. 

Like his 200 brothers and sisters in Milford, 50H-1 spent plenty of time in the ATD lab repair shop for new sensors, knees, feet and other body parts that took the brunt of crash impacts. 

In calmer times, 50H-1 was the subject of static testing for vehicle seat positioning and seat belt routing studies. 50H-1 traveled throughout the United States for everything from highway guard rail testing in Nebraska to a robotics display in Atlanta. 

In addition to 50H-1, GM's donation includes an ATD leg and instruments used for measuring crash forces, and an energy-absorbing steering column from a 1967 Chevrolet.  

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