A Naturalistic Seating Study of Children in Booster Seats with the PIPER Human Body Model; Frontal and Oblique Impacts in the Vehicle Environment with SCAB and AEB

Principal Investigator: Jalaj Maheshwari, MS, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


Traditionally, when evaluating CRS performance, ATDs are seated centrally and upright for testing. However, real-world evidence suggests that children move about in child restraints, making the optimal upright posture less likely in the real world. We wanted to understand the differences in injury outcomes between the optimal and actual postures of child occupants in a crash impact with and without pre-crash automatic emergency braking (AEB).

Using computational modeling, we simulated four different naturalistic seating positions (leaning forward, leaning inboard, leaning outboard, and pre-submarining) along with the standard seating position using the 6- and 10-year-old PIPER human body models restrained in booster seats. We ran these tests with and without pre-crash AEB.


Naturalistic seating

The injuries predicted by the models varied widely by age, seating position, and crash type. Overall, a child occupant leaning inboard showed the greatest level of head excursion among the configurations as they moved out of the belt more easily. Further, when compared with no AEB, the injury metrics were lower for crashes with a pre-crash AEB, despite the same crash impact velocity.


This work provides areas for future optimization and testing – in particular, examining how to improve safety for children in common naturalistic positions. Such insights are critical to the automotive, CRS, and individual component manufacturers, including vehicle seat manufacturers charged with safety design upgrades to better protect occupants from crash-related injuries that meet these needs of children in natural postures. Data from this project can also be used to guide government agencies and labs in testing conditions to better represent the real world.


We would like to explore these naturalistic seating postures using ATDs in actual crash tests to understand how they respond and to further study the injuries associated with the four seating postures in different types of booster seats.

Additionally, this project only explored frontal impacts and frontal offset impacts. We would be interested in looking at other real-world impact scenarios, such as side impacts, to continue studying naturalistic seating injury outcomes.


Clayton Falciani, Drexel University; Shreyas Sarfare, University of Pennsylvania

IAB Mentors

Robert Branam, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; Farid Bendjellal, Britax Child Safety Inc.; Emily Thomas, Consumer Reports; Suzanne Johansson, General Motors Holdings LLC; Mark LaPlante, Graco Children’s Products Inc.; Arjun Yetukuri, Lear Corporation; Jason Stammen, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Paul Gaudreau, UPPAbaby; Julie Kleinert, Technical Advisor; Uwe Meissner, Technical Advisor