Energy absorbing car seat designs for reducing whiplash

Objectives: This study presents an investigation of anti-whiplash features that can be implemented in a car seat to reduce whiplash injuries in the case of a rear impact. The main emphasis is on achieving a seat design with good energy absorption properties. Methods: A biofidelic 50th percentile male multi-body human model for rear impact is developed to evaluate the performance of car seat design concepts. The model is validated using the responses of 7 volunteers from the Japanese Automobile Research Institute (JARI) sled tests, which were performed at an impact speed of 8 kph with a rigid seat and without head restraint and seatbelt. A generic multi-body car seat model is also developed to implement various seatback and recliner properties, anti-whiplash devices, and head restraints. Using the same driving posture and the rigid seat in the JARI sled tests as the basic configuration, several anti-whiplash seats are designed to allow different types of motion for the seatback and seat-pan. Results: The anti-whiplash car seat design concepts limit neck internal motion successfully until the head-to–head restraint contact occurs and they exhibit low NICmax values (7 m2/s2 on average). They are also effective in reducing neck compression forces and T1 forward accelerations. In principle, these car seat design concepts employ controlled recliner rotation and seat-pan displacement to limit the formation of S-shape. This is accomplished by using anti-whiplash devices that absorb the crash energy in such a way that an optimum protection is provided at different severities. Conclusions: The results indicate that the energy absorbing car seat design concepts all demonstrate good whiplash-reducing performances at the IIWPG standard pulse. Especially in higher severity rear impacts, two of the car seat design concepts reduce the ramping of the occupant considerably.