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Shock and Vibration
Volume 16, Issue 1, Pages 61-73

Optimal Occupant Kinematics and Crash Pulse for Automobile Frontal Impact

Zhiqing Cheng,1 Joseph A. Pellettiere,2 Jeff R. Crandall,3 and Walter D. Pilkey3

1Infoscitex, 4027 Colonel Glenn Highway, Suite 210, Dayton, OH 45431, USA
2Human Effectiveness Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Dayton, OH 45433, USA
3Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA

Received 21 September 2007; Revised 28 December 2007

Copyright © 2009 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Based on a lumped-parameter model of the occupant-vehicle system, optimal kinematics of the occupant in frontal impact are investigated. It is found that for the minimization of the peak occupant deceleration, the optimal kinematics move the occupant at a constant deceleration. Based on this the optimal vehicle crash pulse is investigated. The optimal crash pulse for passive restraint systems is found to be: a positive impulse at the onset, an immediate plunge followed by a gradual rebound, and finally a positive level period. The relation of the peak occupant deceleration to the impact speed, crash deformation, and vehicle interior rattlespace is established. The optimal crash pulse for active and pre-acting restraint systems is discussed.