Wayne State partners with Toyota on safety research
Two research groups at Wayne State University have teamed up with the Toyota Technical Center, a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), to work on projects for TEMA's safety research center — the Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC).
The CSRC was established to support collaborative research focused on increasing the safety of vehicles, drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Over the next five years, the CSRC will invest $50 million to improve vehicle safety, ultimately saving lives of drivers, passengers and pedestrians. A significant focus will be on reducing the risk of driver distraction and better protecting the most vulnerable traffic populations, including children, teens, seniors and pedestrians.
Of the 10 projects funded by Toyota, Wayne State University is leading two projects. The first, led by Richard Young, Ph.D., research professor of psychiatry in WSU's School of Medicine, and Li Hsieh, Ph.D., associate professor of communication sciences and disorders in WSU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, focuses on in-depth research and analysis of a driver's cognitive interaction with in-vehicle technologies. The second, led by King-Hay Yang, Ph.D., director of the Bioengineering Center and professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering in WSU's College of Engineering, along with Haojie Mao, Ph.D and Xin Jin Ph.D., post-doc fellows in WSU's Department of Biomedical Engineering, is developing software models of a 10-year-old child and an elderly female human body for crash simulation purposes.
Young and Hsieh are applying cognition models to traffic safety and driving issues — a process often used in psychology and cognitive neuroscience areas, but infrequently used in traffic safety and driving issues. This project is creating a cognitive attention model of driver performance to improve the understanding of driver inattentiveness and distraction. The study will advance the auto industry's understanding of a phenomenon that has been widely blamed for many accidents and injuries on U.S. roads and highways.
Yang and his team of researchers have been developing computerized models of the effects of car crashes on the human body. He is developing human body finite element models for children and seniors so that engineers can account for differences in their body characteristics when designing vehicle safety systems. This study aims to close the gap between current safety testing and the actual injuries sustained by these two vulnerable populations, ultimately reducing injuries to all occupants regardless of age.
"We are extremely pleased to collaborate with Wayne State to help enhance the development, testing and implementation of new automotive safety innovations across North America," said Chuck Gulash, director of the Collaborative Safety Research Center. "At the CSRC, our mission is to serve as a catalyst for the advancement of auto safety research, and we are excited about the potential offered by these new initiatives to help reduce the number of traffic fatalities and injuries on North America's roads."
"This initiative by Toyota's Collaborative Safety Research Center is a critical step toward creating the safest vehicles that exceed Federal Safety Standards," said Hilary Ratner, Ph.D., vice president for research at Wayne State University. "I am pleased that Wayne State's researchers have the opportunity to work with Toyota to develop innovations that will ultimately benefit our entire society by creating a safer world for all of us to live in."