New crash dummy provides more data, can detect brain damage

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- A fatal car crash; it’s a worst-case scenario, and one despite developing technology in the auto industry, keeps happening according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“In 2009 NHTSA did a a study and the study basically said is that even though we have seat-belts being used, airbags, and cars are more crash-worthy, we’re still having a lot of fatalities on the road,” explained Jerry Goupil, the Director of Crash Test Operations at Calspan.

There’s been a lot of changes in the test dummy arena, like models being built bigger to more accurately resemble the average American.

Goupil said the most striking change is in a new model.

Test Device for Human Occupant Restraint, or T.H.O.R. for short, is about 5″8 and 170 lbs. The new model has 140 sensors, and can even detect brain damage.

“T.H.O.R ultimately has about 18 channels of data that he can give us. And with that we can see if the seat-belt was higher or lower we’d be able to see it in T.H.O.R., we wouldn’t be able to see it in the older dummies,” said Technical Solutions Manager at Calspan, Matt Goehle.

Calspan did research for NHTSA to determine how to keep people alive on the road. More precise data from test dummies, is part of its solution.

Calspan purchased two T.H.O.R.s last year; costing between $600,000 and $1 million each, it’s been a major investment.

Goupil is convinced  the research will pay off. T.H.O.R. is manufactured in Detroit by Humanetics.

In 2015, NHTSA announced it wanted T.H.O.R. to be used in testing by auto manufacturers. The protocol has yet to be mandated, but Goupil hopes that will change.

“Regulation will prompt change, T.H.O.R. right now is still in the development phase,” he explained.

Come September, Calspan’s two T.H.O.R.s will have a new home, at the company’s brand new testing lab, behind its current one on Genesee Street. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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