The Society of Automotive Engineers has given its prestigious SAE Ralph H. Isbrandt Automotive Safety Engineering Award to the authors of a technical paper summarizing a one-and-a-half-year-long Toyota study of driver injury mechanism in professional auto racing.
The winning technical paper was written by Toyota’s Robert Smith, along with co-authors Shigeki Hayashi, Yuichi Kitagawa and Tsuyoshi Yasuki. The paper chronicled a research project that brought together Toyota Technical Center, a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing--North America Inc., and NASCAR. The study used Toyota’s virtual human model, the Total HUman Model for Safety (THUMS), to investigate and simulate driver response and injury mechanism resulting from high-speed crashes in the racing environment.
The purpose of the project was to better understand the internal mechanisms of injuries as they relate to specific seat geometries. Armed with this information, researchers could then propose modifications to the cockpit/seat structure and/or restraint systems in hopes of reducing injury risk, particularly to the chest and ribs of drivers.
The project’s findings led NASCAR to update its rulebook regarding seat chest support stiffness targets and seat shoulder support geometry. The goal of the rule changes is to reduce the risk of rib fracture injury for both side and frontal collisions during races.
Yasuki will accept the award on behalf of the Toyota team at the SAE Government/Industry meeting in Washington, D.C.