The objective of the BOSCOS (BOne SCanning for Occupant Safety) project was the development of a system that can make an assessment of the bone characteristics of each vehicle occupant in order to estimate their skeletal strengths. The seatbelt and airbag characteristics can then be adjusted to deliver optimum levels of protection specifically for each occupant. A system introduced into every vehicle has the capacity to save lives and reduce injury levels across the whole spectrum of vehicle occupants. This paper describes the contributions from academic and industrial partners to this UK Department for Transport funded project.
Commercial pressure focuses restraint design on meeting legal requirements for vehicle approval, but legal requirements use dummies which do not represent the range of car occupant shapes, sizes, and driving positions. A person with lower skeletal characteristics may not be able to withstand the current fixed levels of restraint without sustaining injuries. Conversely, a person with greater skeletal characteristics may be capable of withstanding greater levels of restraint.
Possible technologies that are available have been assessed for their suitability for an in-vehicle monitoring system. Accident studies have been conducted to create a baseline of statistics in terms of casualties and their injuries. Initial bone scanning studies have utilised different types of equipment and a new prototype scanner has been developed for use in a vehicle environment using ultrasound technology.
Computer based occupant mathematical modelling has been used to establish the potential gains from a working system and also the requirements needed of the restraint systems to achieve these gains. In addition, bone scanning has been conducted, to determine a method to read across from scan values to skeletal condition to provide data for the optimisation of the restraint system.