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Motion and Muscle Activation of Young Volunteers in Evasive Vehicle Maneuvers

The objective of this study was to quantify key adult and child occupant kinematic, kinetic and muscle responses from sudden evasive vehicle maneuvers. This data is useful to develop future tools to better assess injury risk in crashes preceded by crash avoidance.

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

The Problem

Pre-crash occupant motion may affect head and torso position in vehicle occupants, which in turn may influence the performance of restraint systems in a crash. Additionally, child occupants may exhibit different physical reactions from sudden vehicle maneuvers compared to adults

The Question

How can we gain a greater understanding of how people physically respond in evasive vehicle maneuvers to properly engineer the right tools to enhance crash protection technologies?

What We Did

What We Did

Thirty participants from four age groups, ranging from six-years-old to 46, were recruited to ride in the rear seat of a modern sedan driven by a professional driver on a closed course. Three pre-crash vehicle maneuvers were simulated: emergency braking with two braking methods, extended lateral acceleration from a constant radius turn, and oscillatory swerving generated by a slalom.


Passenger kinematics were measured using a multi-camera array and photo reflective markers on participants, while muscle activity was measured using wireless electromyography (EMG).

The Result

As a result of this study, we determined the following:

  1. Emergency braking affected occupant motion and muscle activation, suggesting that future research may identify crash mitigation maneuvers that protect occupants in the event a crash cannot be avoided.
  2. Children demonstrated different motion and muscle activation than adults, suggesting that future research in this area may further enhance child protection.
  3. The data may lead to new tools to improve occupant safety in automated vehicles. Development of these tools is critical as automated vehicles may perform evasive maneuvers without driver input in sudden pre-crash scenarios.


This is a project in collaboration with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia