Browse Publications Technical Papers 2019-01-1223

Effects of Innovation in Automated Vehicles on Occupant Compartment Designs, Evaluation, and Safety: A Review of Public Marketing, Literature, and Standards 2019-01-1223

In recent years, the discussion around the advent of highly automated vehicles has shifted from “if” to “when.” Commercially available vehicles already incorporate automated vehicle (AV) technologies of varying capability, and the eventual transition to fully automated systems, at least within certain predefined Operational Design Domains, is largely considered inevitable. While the full ramifications of this shift and the eventual depreciation of human driver control are still under intense debate, there is broad agreement on one issue -the advent of driverless systems will remove several constraints on the design of vehicle interior spaces, creating the opportunity for innovation. Even at this early stage, ambitious design concepts of purpose specific vehicles - mobile gyms, offices, bedrooms - have been proposed. More grounded designs, such as rotating passenger seats, have also been put forward. However, there are two other points on which general agreement exists - future AVs will still carry human passengers, and crashes will still occur, however infrequent or less severe. The uncertainty of the future occupant compartment design and crash population will introduce a new set of challenges for occupant protection and predicting injury risk in the future vehicle fleet. This paper explores various proposed design changes to the space of the interior of future automated vehicles, the effects of potential changes on occupant safety during collisions, and the capabilities of the existing testing approaches, design tools, and databases to address questions arising from these developments.


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