Crash test dummies still haven’t learned how to talk, but they can now remember what happens to them on their oh-so-frequent bad days.

The five newest anthropomorphic test devices - crash test dummies - purchased by General Motors come with internal data recorders capable of collecting 10,000 samples of crash data per second for each of the 24 data channels.

"We have progressed from data recorders the size of phone booths 10 years ago to the size of a shoe box that we put on the vehicle," said Jack Jensen, engineering group manager in charge of the ATD laboratory at GM’s Milford Proving Ground.

"Now, that same capability has been reduced to the size of a cell phone and is contained on the dummy itself."

The dummies, which cost about $125,000 each, were manufactured by First Technology Safety Systems in Plymouth, Mich. GM’s purchase of the so-called i-Dummies is the largest order to date. The "i" refers to integrated electronics.

The dummies were prepared initially for use in GM’s new rollover crash testing facility. Injury readings are taken from the new dummy’s head, upper and lower neck, chest and pelvis to help researchers and engineers understand what causes injuries in a rollover crash.

New Crash Test Dummies
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"These dummies aren’t encumbered by 50 pounds of wires and can move around more freely, the way a person would in a crash," Jensen said. "This shaves off some of the time needed to prepare a dummy. It makes for cleaner installation of the dummy and reduces bulk and weight in the vehicle being tested."

With fewer pieces and parts and an easily removable data recorder located near the top of the spine, the i-Dummy allows GM researchers to move the data pack from dummy to dummy for faster turnaround times in preparing for crash tests.

GM has a long history of innovation in crash-test dummies, including the development of the Hybrid III dummy in 1975. The Hybrid III is used throughout the automotive industry today and is the basis of the i-Dummy.

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