An energy-absorbing sliding seat for reducing neck injury risks in rear impact—analysis for prototype built
Objective: This study investigated overall performance of an energy-absorbing sliding seat concept for whiplash neck injury prevention. The sliding seat allows its seat pan to slide backward for some distance under certain restraint force to absorb crash energy in rear impacts.
Methods: A numerical model that consisted of vehicle interior, seat, seat belt, and BioRID II dummy was built in MADYMO to evaluate whiplash neck injury in rear impact. A parametric study of the effects of sliding seat parameters, including position and cushion stiffness of head restraint, seatback cushion stiffness, recliner characteristics, and especially sliding energy-absorbing (EA) restraint force, on neck injury criteria was conducted in order to compare the effectiveness of the sliding seat concept with that of other existing anti-whiplash mechanisms. Optimal sliding seat design configurations in rear crashes of different severities were obtained. A sliding seat prototype with bending of a steel strip as an EA mechanism was fabricated and tested in a sled test environment to validate the concept. The performance of the sliding seat under frontal and rollover impacts was checked to make sure the sliding mechanism did not result in any negative effects.
Results: The protective effect of the sliding seat with EA restraint force is comparable to that of head restraint–based and recliner stiffness–based anti-whiplash mechanisms. EA restraint force levels of 3 kN in rear impacts of low and medium severities and 6 kN in impacts of high severity were obtained from optimization. In frontal collision and rollover, compared to the nonsliding seat, the sliding seat does not result in any negative effects on occupant protection. The sled test results of the sliding seat prototype have shown the effectiveness of the concept for reducing neck injury risks.
Conclusion: As a countermeasure, the sliding seat with appropriate restraint forces can significantly reduce whiplash neck injury risk in rear impacts of low, medium, and high severities with no negative effects on other crash load cases.