Human & Surrogate Testing

Exponent has extensive experience and capabilities related to surrogate testing with human volunteers and crash test dummies. As part of our evaluations of injury mechanics and injury potential, our biomechanical staff can simulate important aspects of an accident (or event) using a surrogate to ascertain the motions and/or forces that an individual would experience. This engineering technique is used to analyze accidents, to assist with product development, and to evaluate compliance with relevant safety standards.

Volunteer Testing

The biomechanical staff at Exponent can utilize volunteers in a variety of environments to deepen our understanding of a given biomechanical event. For analyses of injury claims, our staff design safe testing environments for volunteers that permit assessment of important analysis parameters. Before volunteer tests are conducted, all testing protocols and confidentiality agreements are reviewed and approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB).  Volunteers are used to evaluate human motion during a variety of activities, including:


  • Transportation events 
  • Amusement park rides 
  • Recreational and everyday activities 

Crash Test Dummies 

Whether at our Test and Engineering Center in Phoenix, Arizona, or at an incident site, our biomechanical staff utilize crash test dummies to investigate body motion, loading and injury potential. Crash test dummies are used to conduct tests for which a volunteer would not be appropriate. Exponent has a wide selection of crash test dummies and can adjust their height and weight to simulate almost any size individual. Crash test dummies allow us to:


  • Simulate transportation accidents 
  • Test helmets and protective equipment 


Recent Related Exponent Publications

Exponent has published and presented work regarding human surrogate testing that has assessed injury potential in various environments.


Heller M, Sharpe S, Newberry W, Dibb A, Zolock J, Croteau J, Carhart M, Kerrigan J, Clauser M. Occupant kinematics and injury response in steer maneuver-induced furrow tripped rollover testing. SAE International Journal of Transportation Safety 2015; 3(2).

Larson R, Croteau J, Bare C, Zolock J, et al. Steering maneuver with furrow-tripped rollovers of a pickup and passenger car. SAE Technical Paper 2015-01-1477, 2015, doi:10.4271/2015-01-1477.

Rodowicz KA, Olberding J, Rau A. Head injury potential and the effectiveness of headgear in women’s lacrosse. Annals of Biomedical Engineering 2014; in press.

Newberry W, Imler S, Carhart M, Dibb A, Balavich K, Croteau J, Cooper E. Belted occupant kinematics and head excursion during the airborne phase of vehicle rollover: Evaluation of the effects of rollover-deployed curtain airbags. SAE Technical Paper 2014-01-0527, 2014. doi:10.4271/2014-01-0527.

Yang, N, Rodowicz KA, Dainty D. Baseball head impacts to the non helmeted and helmeted Hybrid III ATD. Proceedings of the ASME 2014 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE2014-38648, Montreal, Quebec, November 14 20, 2014.

Rodowicz KA, Watson H. Incidence rate of sport-related traumatic brain injury diagnoses in the general population: An analysis of emergency department visits in 2001 and 2010. ASTM Selected Technical Papers 2014; 1552:187–195.

Newberry W, Carhart M, Larson R, Bridges A, Fowler G. Biomechanics of occupant responses during recreational off-highway vehicle (ROV) riding and 90-degree tip-overs. SAE Technical Paper 2012-01-0096. SAE International Journal of Passenger Cars – Mechanical Systems 2012; 5(1): 2012. doi:10.4271/2012-01-0096.

Fittanto D, Rodowicz KA. A comparison of 3D model dynamic simulation results with low speed crash test data. Society of Automotive Engineers International, 2012 01 0601, April 16, 2012.

Rodowicz KA, Dupont K, Smedley J, Raasch C, Mkandawire C, Fittanto D, Bare C, Smith J. Passenger vehicle occupant response to low-speed impacts with a tractor-semitrailer. Society of Automotive Engineers International, 2011-01-1125, April 14, 2011.

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