Advancements in Testing Methodologies in Response to the FMVSS 201U Requirements for Curtain-Type Side Airbags 2001-01-0470
Vehicle manufacturers are developing dynamically deploying upper interior head protection systems to provide added occupant protection in lateral crashes. These devices are used to protect the head and neck areas and to prevent ejection from the vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established requirements in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 201  for these systems. This paper will discuss testing methodologies in the areas of component testing of curtain-type side airbag systems and full scale side impact testing of a vehicle into a rigid pole. These testing methodologies have been created as a direct result of the development phase of several airbag systems.
Prior to pole impact testing, tests have been developed which evaluate these types of systems for characteristics such as inflation time, fill capacity, and how long the system stays inflated during side impact and rollover simulations. Also, temperature effects and impact configurations have been investigated in order to clearly understand the dynamics of such systems. As a result, several new component-level tests are being conducted which investigate these issues.
Concerning side impact pole crash testing, the method of vehicle towing is very important. Two methods of towing vehicles laterally will be compared; sliding the vehicle with low friction pads and rolling the vehicle on pneumatic wheel dollies. Photographs and diagrams will be presented showing the equipment used for each method. Data will be presented showing the variation in impact points and angles at impact. A comparison of data with two identical vehicles using the two methods will be presented.
Both methods presented are used throughout the automotive industry. The condition of the test track has a great influence on which method is most effective. For tracks with minor imperfections, greater flexibility is available in choosing a method. For tracks with surface variations, the wheel dolly method appears to perform best. The wheel dolly method also allows the vehicle to be towed at angles up to 25 degrees from perpendicular. This is very beneficial for accident reconstruction/simulation purposes. Readers of this paper will gain a much broader understanding of curtain airbag development testing procedures, equipment, and pole impact crash testing practices in general.
Citation: Kaleto, H., Winkelbauer, D., Havens, C., and Smith, M., "Advancements in Testing Methodologies in Response to the FMVSS 201U Requirements for Curtain-Type Side Airbags," SAE Technical Paper 2001-01-0470, 2001, https://doi.org/10.4271/2001-01-0470. Download Citation
Helen A. (Rychlewski) Kaleto, David Winkelbauer, Chris J. Havens, Michael Smith
MGA Research Corporation
SAE 2001 World Congress
Progress in Safety Test Methodology-SP-1596