Safe-D: Safety through Disruption

Crashworthiness Compatibility Investigation of Autonomous Vehicles with Current Passenger Vehicles


This project will propose testing and evaluation criteria to investigate crash compatibility between autonomous and human-driven vehicles, with consideration of different potential crash scenarios. Finite element computer models will then be utilized to conduct predictive simulations investigating potential cases of impacts between human-driven and autonomous vehicles. Current regulations defining IIHS testing criteria will be investigated to determine how the newly proposed testing conditions might need to be modified to address the worst-case testing scenario, such as maximizing the potential for occupant compartment deformation and intrusion during the crash event. Testing evaluation criteria might also have to be modified to address potential different occupant compartment deformation or areas intrusion. Recently approved autonomous vehicles types on US roads do not have an occupant compartment. They are used instead for good distribution, requiring a different, more compact and stiffer design, with very little room for deformation during an actual crash. The research team is planning to investigate the current IIHS crash compatibility regulations and propose testing criteria for addressing crash compatibility between most vulnerable human passenger cars and different classes of autonomous vehicles, ranging from small (~1,800-lbs) to large (~10,000- lbs.) sizes. This project would support potential testing criteria to be proposed to complement the current testing needs for the IIHS by exploring the most critical among different impact scenarios (side, rear, frontal), with varying speeds and inclusion of virtual dummies (as human-vehicles occupants).

Project Highlights

  • Investigated the crash compatibility of no-occupant automated vehicles of various classes with passenger vehicles
  • Proposed a methodology to continue investigation and comparison of no-occupant vehicle crashworthiness compatibility and related evaluation criteria
  • Suggested potential vehicle design characteristics to consider when developing a no-occupant vehicle design.

Final Report

Final Report 05-098

EWD & T2 Products

A master student was funded under this project (from TAMU).

A webinar will be presented in February 2022 with the Safe-D webinar series.

Student Impact Statement –Aniruddha Zalani (pdf): The student(s) working on this project provided an impact statement describing what the project allowed them to learn/do/practice and how it benefited their education.


A journal will be submitted for publication consideration to the Transportation Research Record (TRR) in June 2022.

A request for formal presentation (lectern or poster session) will be submitted for consideration to the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in June 2022.

An informal presentation will also be submitted to the TRB Standing Committee on Roadside Safety Design (AKD20) for Summer Mid-Year meeting in 2022.

Final Dataset

The final datasets for this project are located in the Safe-D Collection on the VTTI Dataverse; DOI: 10.15787/VTT1/DFXW2H.

Research Investigators (PI*)

Chiara Silvestri Dobrovolny (TTI/TAMU)*
Gretchen Stoeltje (TTI/TAMU)
Aniruddha Zalani (TTI/TAMU-Student)

Project Information

Start Date: 2020-12-10
End Date: 2021-12-11
Status: Complete
Grant Number: 69A3551747115
Total Funding: $107,000
Source Organization: Safe-D National UTC
Project Number: 05-098

Safe-D Theme Areas

Automated Vehicles
Transportation as a Service

Safe-D Application Areas

Performance Measures
Operations and Design
Driver Factors and Interfaces

More Information

UTC Project Information Form

Sponsor Organization

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
University Transportation Centers Program
Department of Transportation
Washington, DC 20590 United States

Performing Organization

Texas A&M University
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
3135 TAMU
College Station, Texas 77843-3135