Dummies. Plural of the word “Dummy”, which in English literally means “mannequin” although it can also be understood in a colloquial and familiar environment as “dumb” or “silly”.


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  • 1 History
  • 2 Need to test
    • 1 Evidence with corpses
    • 2 Trials with volunteers
  • 3 Hybrid III Series
    • 1 The evidence
  • 4 Sources


The first test dummy was created in the United States in 1949 . It was called Sierra Sam and was designed to test the operation of the ejection seats of the jet fighters of the armed forces. Later they would be used for car tests and would definitely assume the name of “dummies” both in their country of origin and in the other states, as in the case of Spain .

Ford, for example, developed two human-looking dummies in the mid-1950s to investigate the effectiveness of its safety systems. They were called FERD I and FERD II, and they were made of steel (the area that mimicked the bones) and hard and soft plastic to simulate muscles and skin.

Currently these devices are very complex, being able to exceed 50,000 euros in cost with all the instruments they require for their study and handling. As Ford safety engineer Jake Head explains, “Today’s crash test dummies are very complex devices,” and it is up to them that active and passive safety systems work properly.

Need to test

The 31 of August of 1869 , Mary Ward became the presumed was the first fatality recorded in an automobile accident when he was ejected from a vehicle and died as a result of the coup in Ireland .

The 14 of September of 1899 , Henry Bliss became the first victim of a car accident when he was hit by a descending trolobus in New York . Since then, more than 20 million people have died from these accidents.

The need for a means of analyzing and developing methods of mitigating the effects of vehicle accidents on people was evident after large-scale production of commercial vehicles began in the late 1980s .

Evidence with corpses

Detroit’s Wayne State University was the first to collect information on the effects of high-speed crashes on the human body. In the absence of data or tools to measure these responses, it was necessary to use corpses.

To do this, iron balls were dropped on the skulls, and the bodies were thrown into openings of disused elevators falling on metal platforms. This brought with it ethical and moral problems.

Trials with volunteers

Colonel Jhon Paul Stapp of the United States Air Force got into a rocket-powered vehicle at more than 1000km / h and stopped in less than 1 second.

Lawrence Patrick, a professor at Wayne State University, made more than 400 trips in a rocket- powered vehicle .

The data obtained from these trials was valuable, but the volunteers could not be tested beyond the point where they felt mild discomfort.

Hybrid III series

The 50th percentile male dummy Hybrid III, was born in 1976 and is now a head of the family. Its height is 1.68 m and its mass is 77kg. He takes the driver’s seat in all crash tests conducted at the Institute for Highway Safety.

Accompanied by the Hybrid III 95, which measures 1.88 m and weighs 100kg. Children’s models are based on estimates and fill the information gap on the effects of shocks on them.


Each Hybrid III is calibrated prior to testing. Its leather is suede, it is tested on the knees with a needle. The head and neck are attached to the rest of the body, which is located on a test platform where it is violently struck by a pendulum to verify that the ribs bend and flex properly.

The Hybrid III has 44 channels of data reading which are distributed throughout its body, these sensors allow registering between 30,000 and 35,000 data during a typical crash that lasts between 100-150 milliseconds.

The information is stored in the trunk of the dummy, after the test the data is transferred to a computer for study. It is possible to rehearse a given dummy several times.


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