NASA crash-test dummies take a beating to make aviation safer

NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia recently offered a fascinating peek at its work to make aviation safer for us all, from passengers in airplanes to astronauts in space capsules.

A video posted on YouTube explains how the team’s work “ranges from next-generation aircraft to water-impact tests that evaluate the splashdown of Orion astronaut crew capsules returning from space.”

Many of the experiments involve the use of crash-test dummies, similar to the ones used by car safety designers working on ways to improve the protection of a vehicle’s occupants in the event of a collision.

NASA’s dummies are packed with sensors that provide engineers with a slew of data from each impact test.

With crash scenarios aplenty, the video clips may not offer the best viewing experience for nervous fliers, but for those interested in the team’s work, the brief insight is sure to prove fascinating.

“Everything that you want to know about injury occurs anywhere from one-tenth to four-tenths of a second [during impact],” explains Martin Annett, a structural impact dynamics engineer at the Langley Research Center. “We have to be able to capture a lot of data within that time frame.”

Annett says that developments in technology mean the instrumentation that records the data “has gotten a lot smaller — you can now put a suite of sensors just in the back of the head and then the data will be stored on a laptop. We can then take a look at that data, evaluate that against injury criteria, [and] compute different injury criteria.”

The engineer says that when it comes to, say, astronauts, the team can use the data to improve the design of suits and helmets. The latter, for example, places extra weight on the neck and upper body, so keeping helmets light and properly balanced is essential to reducing the chances of injury if an impact occurs at any stage during a mission, particularly when the astronauts return to Earth.

One of the clips shows the cross-section of a plane fuselage — complete with the sensor-laden dummy passengers — hitting the ground with great force following a vertical drop. Annett describes the importance of energy-absorbing seats in such a scenario, with tests allowing the team to learn about the likely effect of such an impact on humans.

The dummies get battered every which way, but the ongoing research is leading to better designs across the aviation industry, for which anyone who ever leaves the ground in a flying machine (or space capsule) will surely be grateful.

Coincidental to NASA’s crash test dummies video release, Qy Research announced The Global Automotive Crash Test Dummies Industry 2018 Market Research Report, according to Technological Critic. This study is an in-depth look at the current state of the automotive crash test dummy sector.

Updated on April 9 with information about the automotive crash test dummy report.

Emerging Tech

Only three people have explored the deep oceans. Meet the next two

In a new mission called Five Deeps, a team of explorers will brave the inhospitable depths of the world’s oceans, observing, mapping, and collecting samples along the way. The explorers aim to traverse 40,000 nautical miles over the…
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.
Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.