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1 August 2007 PR 07/102

Automatic child car booster seat wins Loughborough students international acclaim

A design for an automatic child car booster seat won three Loughborough students a place in the final of an international competition.

The second Student Safety Technology Design Competition was hosted by the 20th International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV) in June. It gives young scholars from North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific an exciting opportunity to design, build, and demonstrate a cost effective conceptual scale model of a vehicle safety technology.

To enter the contest students had to come up with a design that focuses on a real-world vehicle safety problem, and one which aims to reduce the number of crashes and/or mitigating the resulting injuries and preventing fatalities caused by vehicle collisions.

The design by Pinar Boyraz, a PhD student in mechatronics, and mechanical engineering undergraduates Joanna Styles and Jonathan Bennett was for an automated car child restraint system. The system forms part of a regular car seat, which automatically transforms into a booster seat when a child is placed on it. Sensors are used to detect the child occupant and make the necessary seat changes to safely restrain it, including seat height adjustment and side protection cushions. The mechanism is completely retractable so an adult can also use the seat at any time.

Speaking about their design the Loughborough team said: “In September 2006 the law regarding child restraint in vehicles changed. The new laws enforce the use of restraints or booster seats for children until they reach the age of twelve. We believe that our design would make using a booster seat easier for parents and fun for children.”

Dr Memis Acar, who supervised the students’ entry in the competition said: “All the team members worked hard to design and build the automatic child restraint system that I proposed to them, and duly deserved their place in the international finals. The concept that they have demonstrated in this design should help to reduce injuries and fatalities among child passengers. Before long we will see this concept used in cars.”

Loughborough University was the only university that competed at the finals of both the first Student Safety Technology Design Competition held in Washington DC in 2005 and the second.

The overall winner of the 2007 competition was an entry by students from Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University’s Centre for Injury Biomechanics.

ENDS

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Notes for editors:

  1. For further information about the Student Safety Technology Design Competition visit:
    http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/
  2. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

    It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

    Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

    In the 2006 National Student Survey, the University gained a top five place, with nine out of Loughborough’s 23 departments topping their subject tables. Loughborough was also placed 6th in the 2007 Times Good University Guide and was named winner of the 2006 THES award for the UK’s Best Student Experience. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university.

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