Evaluation of Wheelchair Tiedown Loads

Sponsor: UM Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP)

Dates: January 2021 to April 2021

Researchers: Kayla Rowell, Miriam Manary, Nichole Orton, Kathleen D. Klinich

To develop integrated wheelchair seating stations for automated vehicles (AVs), manufacturers need to understand the loading involved when securing a wheelchair to the vehicle, because wheelchairs can weigh much more than vehicle seats. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has conducted hundreds of dynamic sled tests of wheelchairs since the 1980s that include data on securement forces. These tests have involved manual, power, and stroller wheelchairs and a range of crash dummy sizes from small children to large adult males. This project first involved updating the wheelchair sled test database with the most recent test results, and then investigated factors that affect load levels. As shown in the figure below, the tiedown load is strongly correlated with the combined weight of the wheelchair and ATD, and varies with whether the seatbelt is attached to the wheelchair or to the vehicle. Results from this analysis will allow vehicle manufacturers to design wheelchair seating stations for AVs that will allow passengers who travel while seated in a wheelchair to ride safely and independently.