Toyota has taken the next step in its simulated crash testing procedures, expanding its family of virtual crash-test dummies to include children.

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The crash-test software, known as Total Human Model for Safety (THUMS), maps and simulates injuries sustained by human bodies during a collision.

THUMS can forecast the extent of likely injuries throughout the body, providing a valuable tool in the development of occupant protection devices, such as airbags and the general design of safer vehicles.

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New dummies to mimic the characteristics of children at different ages - 94cm tall at three years, 118cm at six and 138cm at age 10 - join the large and average-build male, along with smaller female dummies.

Like their adult counterparts, the new child dummies will be offered in two versions: passenger and pedestrian.

The simulated children were created through a collaboration with Wayne State University, the University of Michigan and the Collaborative Safety Research Centre at the Toyota Technical Center in Michigan.

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While originally developed by and for Toyota, these software models will be offered for sale to other manufacturers from later this year.

THUMS was first launched as Version 1 in 2010, with faces and bone structure added to the simulator dummies in a Version 2 update in 2003.

2008 saw Version 3 add brain simulation and the Version 4 upgrade added detailed modelling of the brain along with internal organs.

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Last year in 2015, THUMS Version 5 allowed the models to simulate the same bracing positions that a human may assume right before a collision.

Toyota uses THUMS to analyse the injuries sustained by passengers and pedestrians during impacts with and between vehicles, and to further research and improve safety technologies of all types.