Principal Investigator: Patrice Tremoulet, PhD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THIS PROJECT?
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are being tested, and vehicles with varying levels of autonomy are already on our roads today. AVs raise a host of safety questions about child passengers, including how families with children that require CRS would be impacted by non-traditional seating arrangements that are proposed for AVs. In this project, we created a simulated AV interior to explore how three different “living room style” seating arrangements would affect the ability of parents to install and remove CRS, families’ comfort level, and how well children were restrained.
We recruited 14 families with children ages 0 to 7 to experience three simulated seating configurations: Front-Facing-In, Sides-Facing-In, and X (all seats at oblique angles relative to the front windshield). Families installed CRS in the different configurations and then sat and interacted with their children for a period of time. When they were finished, we asked both the parents and children questions about what they liked and didn’t like about each configuration.
WHAT DID YOU FIND?
The majority of families preferred the X seating arrangement where everyone is facing each other on a diagonal. They liked being able to face and interact with each other, their ability to see the road, and the level of legroom. No one wanted to sit rearward facing. Time to install and remove CRS were similar for all three seating arrangements.
WERE ANY OF THE RESULTS SURPRISING?
Families found the X seating arrangement enabled them to more easily install and remove the CRS because it featured the most space adjacent to the side door (pictured below). This indicates that AV designers may want to consider the position of the doors relative to the seats and how families enter and exit when developing seating configurations.
WHAT ARE THE INDUSTRY IMPLICATIONS FOR THIS RESEARCH?
AV manufacturers have the opportunity to consider family use while these vehicles are still in the concept, design and early prototyping stages. We don’t want child safety to be an afterthought. More research is also needed to understand how alternative seating arrangements affect the forces experienced by all passengers during crashes, including children.
Project Team Members
Kevin Heller, BA, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Jalaj Maheshwari, MS, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Brendan Corr, Rowan University; Shreyas Sarfare, University of Pennsylvania; Sophia Tushak, University of Virginia
Doug Longhitano, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; Jennifer Stockburger, Consumer Reports; Suzanne Johansson, General Motors Holdings LLC; Mark Neal, General Motors Holdings LLC; Jerry Wang, Humanetics Innovative Solutions Inc.; Arjun Yetukuri, Lear Corporation; Schuyler St. Lawrence, Toyota USA; Julie Kleinert, Technical Advisor; Uwe Meissner, Technical Advisor