Safer Cushions

This project will develop and test an automated, self-restoring crash cushion to help enhance safety of motoring public and workers on the highways while minimizing or eliminating maintenance and reducing life cycle costs. Work in Stage 1 will focus on systems check and readiness. The crash cushion, upon impact, telescopes backward while unspooling a strap from a drum that rotates on an axis. A motor will be attached to that axis to reverse the drum rotation direction, pulling the crash cushion out of its compressed state and back into its original position. The motor will be controlled by a programmable logic controller (PLC). With the motor sized and the system check controls programmed, the electronic components that sense the position will be procured along with the motor and the PLC and added to the SaferCushion. The SaferCushion will be set in its compressed, telescoped form. From that position, the PLC will be powered on to begin a resetting test. The PLC will be programmed to account for the lack of an impact, which ordinarily will trigger the resetting algorithm. Multiple tests will be done from different starting positions to test the sensors’ ability to detect starting position and stop the motor accurately. Other non-impact tests will include intentional sabotaging of the system to evaluate the self-checking and self-healing features. In Stage 2, crash testing will be done at the Barber Laboratory for Advanced Safety Education and Research (BLASER) which has a large concrete pad with a semi-rigid bogey block on one end. The crash cushion prototype, with the proposed electronic motors and controls, will be installed against the bogey block and impacted by a bogey vehicle. Speeds will range from 20 to 40 mph, and angles will range from 0 to 15 degrees, totaling nine different test configurations. Each of the nine tests will be repeated five times, for a total of 45 impacts. The braking efficiency of the system will be monitored over the course of those 45 crash tests. A detailed final report will be prepared that will include recommendations on how to use the technology to further the safety goals of the highway agencies and industry.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $100000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-30, IDEA 203

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Jawed, Inam

  • Performing Organizations:

    Univerity of Alabama - Bimingham

  • Principal Investigators:

    Schrum, Kevin

    Sicking, Dean

  • Start Date: 20180814
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01677702
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-30, IDEA 203
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Aug 13 2018 3:03PM