Anne Guillaume (LAB) : we are focused on the safety of future cars

Head of french LAB (Laboratoire d’Accidentologie, de Biomécanique et d’analyse du comportement humain), that stands for accident research, biomachanical and driver behaviour laboratory, Anne Guillaume explains how her team works to improve road safety.

Can you please remind us what is the LAB ?

It's a common structure to the french OEMs, created in 1969 when France was facing a very high rate of fatalities (more than 14 000 people killed on the roads). Renault and Peugeot joined their efforts to have a better undestanding of accidents and to develop new safety features. It's been successful, if you consider that fatalities came down to 3 268 in 2013, meanwhile road traffic was multiplied by three.  

Historically, you've been focused on secondary safety. Right ? 

Yes. We have developed our own database of detailed accidents, in order to determine the causes and the consequences for the occupants. 300 cases are studied each year. With the help of experts, that came on site, collected data and made measures, we can digitally reproduce these accidents. This has led french OEMs to reconsider passive safety. For example, they have strenghtened the body and introduced safety belt pretensioners and load limiter. That lowers the impact for the thorax in case of accident. When we compare the results, it shows that these equipements have really improved road safety. But, we don't stop our efforts in that field. With new electric and lighter vehicles, we must ensure that the safety level remains as high as possible.

And what about biomechanical studies ?

We both work on simulation and real crash tests, in order to help OEMs to elaborate safety requirements for their next products. We have a great knowledge on human body tolerance.

What are the other fields of expertise ?

We're working on primary safety as well. Our team shares a database with the European centre of studies on safety and risk analysis (CEESAR, a french non profit organization). We study 50 cases each year. This helps us to prepare the future. By the way, we participate to R & D projects, such as Car2Car in Europe and Score@F in France. We also have a link with VeDeCoM institute in France for driver assistance systems and driving automation.

Are you preoccupied by driver distraction ? 

Of course, it's an important topic. For instance, we are working on the kind of messages that should be displayed on HMIs. To be honest, we're waiting for the first results of U Drive project. That naturalistic driving study will enable us to have a clear picture of what are the behaviours, with real drivers monitored by a camera and a data recorder connected to the CAN bus.


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