Vehicle Occupant Protection
Modern armored vehicles can provide tremendous structural resilience to mine and IED blasts; however, an unfortunate consequence is increased injury to the foot, ankle, leg, and spine due to loading through the vehicle floor and seat. During an under-belly blast, vehicles experience huge vertical accelerations in short time periods, requiring unique material solutions to mitigate these forces and prevent occupant injury.
Working with research institutions including Wayne State University, along with an independent test facility replicating the Army Research Lab (ARL) Crew Seating Blast Effect Simulator (CBES), we studied a variety of flooring materials under various loading cases. By comparing the leg loading results to established fracture thresholds, we worked to tune a flooring solution to mitigate injury across the widest range of loading conditions possible. Validation testing was completed as part of an MRAP live blast test at Aberdeen Test Center (ATC).
In transitioning our knowledge of materials for head impact protection into the realm of seating, we found new challenges in terms of loading scenarios, vibration transmissibility, and advanced fire-retardant requirements. We have found that many OEMs weren’t satisfied with the available flexible urethane foams in many of these categories, and we have been able to provide a range of materials with new and unique performance attributes.
In impact performance (mine-blast simulation), we found that the use of a tuned seat cushion can provide an added level of protection to existing EA seat systems. In vibration, we found that the transmissibility profile of many seat cushion upgrades actually amplify frequencies below 10-15Hz (dominant ground vehicle frequencies). However, our viscoelastic Zorbium® foam has a higher resonance in order to dampen vibrations in this range. For fire retardance, we have developed formulations that exceed FAR 25.853, making them suitable for anything from a commercial ground vehicle to military aviation.