Why companies spend millions on crash test dummies

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A car buyer may never see crash test dummies, but they are a crucial piece of what keeps pushing automotive safety forward.

The latest crash test dummies are loaded with sensors and new tech, and they can cost $1 million. Major automakers and suppliers can have fleets of dozens of dummies. New dummies are also made to be more biofidelic, which means true to the actual shape and features of the human body.

Humanetics, the world’s leading maker of crash test dummies, has paid specific attention to making its latest generation female dummy more true to the shape of actual women. The female dummy most commonly in use today, called the Hybrid III 5F, is basically a shrunken version of the male Hybrid III dummy, with male proportions and weight distribution.

The latest generation frontal impact dummies have a greater array of sensors, onboard computers and designs that are meant to better resemble the heftier people of today. The average American has gained a few pounds since the early 1980s, when the previous generation was made.

Automakers and some vehicle testing groups around the world have already adopted the latest dummies, but some have held back, including the U.S. government.

To learn more, watch the video.

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