While GM is going low-tech with its crash testing, Toyota has developed a computer simulation system to improve safety in high-speed racecars in conjunction with the FIA Institute.
Total Human Model Safety (THUMS) is a virtual representation of the human body which can be used to accurately simulate the injuries sustained in real-world accidents.
This system has allowed the FIA Institute and Toyota to study types of serious injuries that are difficult to measure with conventional crash test dummies.
In particular, the FIA Institute targeted this technology to study the effects of high-speed rear-impact crashes in the FIA Formula One World Championship and Indy Racing League.
This co-operative effort has determined the cause for spinal-stress build-up – a combination of G-forces and the specific seating position used in F1 racecars.
The research has prompted consideration of what needs to be done to reduce the stress on a driver’s spine following a rear-impact collision.
The FIA Institute expects the research to lead to improved safety for F1 and other single-seater race-car championships.