Seat belts for dogs? University students test out the idea with the help of NY State police

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A group of Clarkson University engineering students recently traveled to the New York State Police Troop B Barracks in Ray Brook, New York to conduct a dog seat belt safety test.

Experimental Methods in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering students Abigail Jacunski, Kristina Franklin and Hannah Orton were tasked with planning their own experiment, executing it and assessing the results.

Explaining the group’s motivation for choosing this topic, Jacunski stated, “There is not much about dog seat belts on the internet. Most of the dog seat belts that are out there haven’t actually been tested — they are just a way to restrain the dog in the car. We wanted to see what is the safest one for the dog.”

A substitute for an auto impact was an important part of this experiment. The solution was the “Seat Belt Convincer,” a device the New York State Troopers use to simulate a low speed auto collision. A car seat with a harness is attached to a ramp and allowed to slide down and impact the padded lower end of the incline.

The students needed a crash test dummy so they purchased stuffed animal dogs and filled them with sand to get closer to the weight of a real dog.

“They designed instrumentation and control circuits to be able to measure the dogs in an impact…and then hopefully identify certain configurations of the harness to be able to tell what’s safe and what’s not safe for the dogs,” explained Dr. Carl Hoover, the course professor.

The results will be put together into a scholarly paper.

Clarkson engineering students in Hoover’s class are encouraged to explore experimental projects that positively impact society, the economy or the environment. Students propose engineering tests based on their own ideas for broader impacts. They develop a formal test plan around a key question, write a procedure, choose measurement techniques, select test equipment, and analyze test data.

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