Crash testing and validation of Military vehicles has not to date, accounted for the Soldier gear burden. Actual loads imparted onto the occupant in a representative Military vehicle crash test environment have been limited and do not reflect what an occupant would actually see in this type of an event. The US Army Soldier encumbered with his gear poses a challenge in restraint system design that is not typical in the automotive world. The weight of the gear encumbrance may have a significant effect on how the restraint system performs and protects the occupant during a frontal event. Other system level complications to Military vehicle interiors are secondary impact surfaces, such as instrument panels, ammunition cans and weaponry which provide a path for off-loading the energy generated by the occupant and gear combination. The energy absorption of these surfaces however, is not ideal in current Military vehicle designs and may result in injury or death.
The goal of this study was to investigate gear and accelerative pulses as they relate to the restraints and occupant interaction. Data from this study will be used for further restraint development. To limit experimental variation a fixed steel seat structure was utilized throughout the entire testing series. It is hypothesized that determining these effects will lead to a restraint system design that can be optimized to provide restraint for the whole range of occupant sizes and gear variations. Further reductions in occupant injury are achieved by properly tuning the surrounding trim, air bags and cargo contact surfaces.
Results of this study indicate the inclusion of the soldier gear may increase the likelihood of occupant excursion and injury. Variation in accelerative pulses resulted in lower injury values and occupant displacements.