Frontal, lateral, and free-operation impacts of amusement bumper cars: vehicle kinematics and occupant kinematics

Paper #:
  • 2018-01-0543

  • 2018-04-03
Bumper cars have been used as a model environment to further understand gross human body response to external forces in events of low injury potential. A series of impact tests was performed using a bumper car ride at an active amusement park. Each test included a bullet (impacting) vehicle operated by a rider and a target (impacted) static vehicle or structure. Impact configurations of frontal collisions of the bullet vehicle into the rear and side of a target vehicle were consistent with the existing literature. Unlike prior studies involving bumper cars, this series also involved staged collisions into the bumper car course retaining barrier and a free operation condition involving multiple vehicles in a normal operation environment where collisions were not pre-determined. The latter condition replicated collisions involving occupants who were expecting a collision to occur at some point in time, but were not necessarily prepared for when it would occur or the direction and severity of impact. Impact velocities, changes in velocity, accelerations, and coefficients of restitution which resulted from these impacts were reported. Head excursions of the restrained driver of the bullet vehicle were also tracked using high-speed video recording. Results demonstrated high repeatability for vehicle parameters, such as impact velocity, change in velocity, and peak acceleration. Peak changes in velocity during vehicle-to-vehicle collisions were 5.5 mph while those during vehicle-to-retaining barrier collisions were 8 mph. Coefficients of restitution and overall vehicle kinematics were similar to prior bumper car studies; however, the vehicle-to-barrier impacts demonstrated larger changes in velocity than prior bumper car studies. Bumper cars present a model environment to study vehicle and occupant kinematics in vehicle collisions that are within human tolerance and include aware but possibly unprepared occupants. This is relevant to establishing occupant kinematics in and limits to autonomous vehicle emergency handling maneuvers.
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