Collaborative Efforts

Ford Motor Company continues to collaborate with other automotive companies on precompetitive safety projects to enhance the safety of the driving experience and develop future technologies. The connected vehicles case study describes several of these collaborations, including the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership and Vehicle Infrastructure Integration Consortium, among others. This section includes three other major examples: the U.S. Council for Automotive Research, the National Science Foundation’s Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies, and our university partnerships.

U.S. Council for Automotive Research (USCAR)

Ford collaborates with General Motors and Chrysler through USCAR’s various safety-related working groups, committees and councils. These include the Safety Technical Leadership Council (Safety TLC), the Occupant Safety Research Partnership (OSRP) and the Crash Safety Working Group (CSWG).

In 2011 and 2012, the OSRP completed a series of evaluations on BioRID, a crash-test dummy that has been proposed for use in a Global Technical Regulation1 for rear-impact testing. In these evaluations, OSRP engineers assessed the dummy design’s “repeatability” and “reproducibility” (R&R), which are essential characteristics for helping to ensure that a crash-test dummy is a reasonable scientific tool. (Repeatability refers to the ability of a single dummy to produce the same results when tested under nominally identical test conditions. Reproducibility refers to the ability of different dummies of the same design to produce the same results when tested under nominally identical test conditions.) If the dummy were to lack R&R, member companies would need to adopt larger compliance margins and conduct more tests to assure compliance with future rear impact regulations. The OSRP working group expects to publish a technical paper with their findings in 2013.

A separate OSRP Pedestrian working group developed a test fixture to enable a study of the repeatability of the FLEX-PLI pedestrian leg form, which is expected to be incorporated into the Global Technical Regulation on pedestrian impact testing. Initial testing of the FLEX-PLI was completed in 2012; additional evaluations will take place in 2013.

The United Nations continues to work toward incorporation of the WorldSID mid-sized male and small female side impact dummies into regulations. Simultaneously, Euro NCAP continues to move toward a new side impact evaluation using the WorldSID mid-sized male dummy. Working group members from the OSRP are participating with representatives from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other governments, as well as other automakers, on the evaluation of these dummies and modifications of the designs, to ensure they meet government testing requirements as well as automakers’ needs for repeatability, reproducibility, biofidelity and overall usability.

The CSWG conducts and directs precompetitive research on crash-related safety issues, with a current focus on issues associated with aspects of advanced, alternate-fueled, energy-efficient vehicles. The CSWG recently analyzed standard vehicle crash-test data for front, side and rear impact modes. This study resulted in a technical paper submitted to the 2013 World Congress of the Society for Automotive Engineers for presentation.

Finally, the CSWG, in conjunction with the University of Michigan, completed phase one of a high-voltage battery modeling project. Experiments were conducted to analyze the structural crush behaviors of inert lithium-ion battery pouch cells. The experimental results and theoretical analyses were used to develop finite element mathematical models. This work resulted in four separate reports on the mechanical behavior and modeling of lithium-ion battery cells.

National Science Foundation’s Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies

Ford continues to support research at the National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (C-ChIPS) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania. C-ChIPS is an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center. Participants include seven automotive companies, NHTSA, Consumer Reports, automotive suppliers, child-seat manufacturers, insurance companies, and a crash-test dummy manufacturer.

In addition to helping fund the work, Ford scientists and engineers help to select the research projects pursued by C-ChIPS researchers each year and even serve as mentors for projects that need automakers’ vehicle safety expertise. Current projects include studies quantifying the fit of child safety seats in vehicles, identification of risk factors and scenarios for teen driver crashes that result in injury, and the biomechanical evaluation of the lower extremities of existing pediatric crash-test dummies.

University Partnerships

Ford collaborates with university partners on a wide range of research projects, including research into advanced safety technologies. In recent years, we have fine-tuned the objectives of our grant-providing University Research Program (URP), moving away from pure exploratory and long-term research and toward highly collaborative projects focused on innovations with more near- and mid-term implementation potential.

In 2012, Ford awarded 20 new URP grants to 18 universities around the globe. Recipient schools in the United States included Wayne State University, Michigan State University, University of California – Davis, Georgetown University, Ohio State University and University of Michigan.

In Europe, new URP grants were awarded to RWTH Aachen University and the University of Bayreuth in Germany; University of Twente and Utrecht University in The Netherlands; and Koç University in Turkey.

And in the Asia Pacific region, grants were awarded to the University of Science and Technology Beijing, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Tsinghua University, all in China. Other universities in this region to win awards included the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, and the Australian National University in Canberra.

Ford also has major research alliances with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, Stanford University and RWTH Aachen University in Germany, as well as previously awarded URPs with other universities. So, the new Ford URP collaborations add to an active research portfolio that now totals 53 projects in partnership with 35 universities globally. In 2013, we expect to award collaborative URP projects to more universities globally, covering a wide spectrum of research and technology areas.

Safety and sustainability are thrust areas in many of these collaborative university programs. The research catalyzes innovation at Ford by providing access to leading researchers at the cutting edge of biomechanics and passive safety technologies, vehicle dynamics and stability control, accident avoidance and driver assistance technologies, biofuels, emissions reduction, weight reduction, battery and alternative powertrain technologies. Ford will continue to integrate these collaborative innovations into our vehicles, driving continuous improvement in real-world safety and sustainability for all Ford Motor Company products.

The following are specific examples of current safety-related projects sponsored by Ford’s Global Research and Advanced Engineering Organization:

  • Wayne State University’s Bioengineering Department is evaluating surrogates for child lateral impact crash testing. Child crash-test dummies for side impact evaluation of vehicles are a recent development. Their designs are based on scaling from adults, but children have unique biomechanical properties and are not just small adults. This project seeks to understand how the new child crash-test dummies perform in simulated side impact crashes and how to improve their design.

  • RWTH Aachen University is working on the development of advanced crash simulation methodology. This research seeks new methods to predict and accurately assess the crash performance of vehicle structures made with advanced materials.

  • Tianjin University of Science and Technology is helping Ford to develop the world’s first human body mathematical model of a six-year-old child. Data from CT scans of a representative six-year-old child were used to determine the physical geometry of the skeleton and internal organs. This data was then used to develop a mathematical representation in the virtual world of a human six-year-old child. When completed, this model may help Ford scientists and engineers better understand how injury to children occurs in vehicle crashes and research ways to reduce risk of injury to children in those crashes.

  1. Two systems of vehicle regulation predominate globally: the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Regulations and the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. With the aim of harmonizing world vehicle regulations, 31 countries are working together to develop Global Technical Regulations. Ford actively participates in the GTR development process.


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