Indo-US Symposium On Preventing Road Crash Injury Through Vehicle Safety Design

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Indo-US Science and Technology Forum

Background and Topics

Crash safety is a primary consideration in the design of transportation systems. These systems are varied as they operate on land, through air, and on water. In future, applications of transportation systems can extend on a larger scale to outer space as well. Increasing safety of automobiles, aircraft, spacecraft and naval vessels calls for both passive and active safety. While the former consideration is involved with addressing structural crashworthiness and occupant safety, the latter involves issues such as crash avoidance through sensing, discerning and actuating technologies implemented in vehicles. It cannot be ignored that efficient traffic management, enforcement of safe driving practices, providing warnings and cautionary signs, avoiding sharp curves and bends in road design, etc. can play a significant role in reducing the chances of vehicle crashes. From a vehicle design standpoint, crash safety is an attribute of transportation systems for which targets are initially set at the vehicle level, which can then be progressively converted into subsystem, part and component level objectives. The targets of safety performance are eventually realized through the design of hardware such as body and its components, restraint systems, mechanical, electrical and electronic devices, etc. As can be easily understood, the design is highly interdisciplinary in nature, and also involves interactions between vehicle systems and human surrogates (i.e. ATDs - anthropomorphic test devices - or dummies) for injury assessment. Because of the inherent nonlinear nature of the problem from an engineering design standpoint, advanced CAE (Computer-Aided Engineering) techniques for dynamic analysis supplemented with insights provided by idealized analytical formulations, and test-based guidance and corroboration are necessary.

As pointed out already and elaborated in a number of recent publications, India holds a dubious ranking in the world in road safety. The total number of gross road accident-related fatalities in India, according to the data published by the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, is currently estimated to be 1,05,000 and may further increase in future. Another area of great concern is the seemingly colossal number of serious injuries suffered by pedestrians and vehicle occupants for which a comprehensive official account does not seem to exist. Considering that India is currently witnessing an explosive growth in motorized mobility systems including two-wheelers, passenger cars, sport-utility vehicles, and, even buses and light commercial vehicles, the issue of improving road safety by reducing fatalities and life-threatening injuries needs to be addressed with utmost urgency. It may be mentioned that despite remarkable strides made in the USA in vehicle safety design, the number of annual fatalities has by-and-large stagnated in the recent years. The country is also faced with an aging population resulting in an increase in drivers with potentially low reflexes along with old problems such as drunken driving and modern problems such as distracted driving due to usage of gadgets such as cell phones during driving. It is generally believed that greater emphasis has to be placed on active safety leading to crash avoidance to realize a perceptible reduction in annual fatalities in the USA. The need for active safety can in no way be overstated in India due to the extreme load of decision-making on a conservative driver of a car to protect against blind-spots, unexpected maneuvers by two-wheelers, and dodging by other vehicles in a mad rush to overtake in busy and congested roads. It is anticipated that a significant number of lives could be saved if cost-effective and robust active safety technologies were available to guard against: collisions between four-wheelers and two-wheelers as well as vehicles and pedestrians, rollovers, speeding and tail-gating on busy highways, inadvertent or risky lane changes, etc.

Incorporation of safety technologies and features in a vehicle often mean additional weight and cost. These may be in conflict with manufacturing cost targets of automotive OEMs and buyers' readiness to pay for additional safety the value of which is often not appreciated until one encounters a mishap or a close call. Thus the challenge on the part of automotive safety researchers and design engineers is to device innovative and optimized countermeasures, both passive and active, which are sustainable in terms of eco-friendliness and practicable in terms of cost. Certainly, government policy-makers and traffic safety regulatory organizations need to play a pro-active role and involve all stake-holders including traffic police such that driving on roads which are a catalyst for progress can be truly a blessing and not a hazard.

The proposed symposium is an earnest attempt in shedding light on the roles as well as state-of-the-art of various areas as outlined above in mitigating the effects of and preventing automobile crashes with particular reference to the Indian and US conditions.

Some of the topics of relevance are mentioned below:

* Statistical analysis of accident data and epidemiology of injuries
* Vehicle platform and system level crash safety design
* Crash safety design of vehicles with lightweight and eco-friendly materials and systems
* Considerations in the crashworthiness design of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles
* Structural impact energy management countermeasures and impact mechanics
* Impact biomechanics and injury prediction
* Vehicle child occupant safety
* Safety of long distance travel in buses
* Crash safety design optimization with multi-disciplinary constraints
* Passive restraint systems
* Active safety systems and devices
* Design methodologies for ensuring crashworthiness and occupant safety
* CAE and PLM tools in vehicle crash safety design
* Innovation in vehicle safety design
* Impact of road infrastructure, enforcement of safe driving practices, and driver education on road safety

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