Dynamic model for automotive side impact crashes

Ludong Sun, Saber Taghvaeeyan, Rajesh Rajamani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A rigid body model to represent a side impact crash is constructed using five degrees-of-freedom (dof) for the vehicle and three dof for each occupant in the vehicle. Nonlinear stiffness and damping elements and the presence of physical gaps between several components make the model highly nonlinear. The model is validated using experimental crash test data from a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) database. To simplify the parameter identification process and reduce the number of parameters to be identified at each stage, a two-step process is adopted in which the vehicle is first assumed to be unaffected by the presence of the occupants, and its model parameters are identified. Subsequently, the parameters in the occupant models are identified.The active set method with a performance index that includes both the L2 and L norms is used for parameter identification. A challenge is posed by the fact that the optimisation problem involved is non-convex. To overcome this challenge, a large set of random initial values of parameter estimates is generated and the optimisation method is applied with all these initial conditions. The values of parameters that provide the minimal performance index from the entire set of initial conditions are then chosen as the best parameter values. The optimal parameters values thus identified are shown to significantly improve the match between the model responses and the experimentally measured sensor signals from the NHTSA crash test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-890
Number of pages16
JournalVehicle System Dynamics
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2014


  • automotive crash
  • crash dynamics
  • occupant protection
  • side impact
  • vehicle dynamics


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