updated 12/26/2007 11:40:49 AM ET 2007-12-26T16:40:49

Ford Motor Co. is developing a high-tech insert for crash test dummies that is similar in size and shape to a 6-year-old's abdomen, aiming to improve tests for children's vehicle safety.

The prototype is part of an effort to make pediatric crash dummies and tests more realistic.

The hope is they'll lead to better vehicle restraints for children, the Dearborn-based automaker said in a statement.

Partners in the collaboration include Wayne State University in Detroit, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Takata Corp., which makes automotive safety systems.

Crash tests mainly focus on head and chest injuries, according to Steve Rouhana, a technical leader in Ford's crash dummy testing.

"We really didn't have the technology before to accurately measure abdominal response," he said.

The silicone prototype features sensors that measure the severity of injuries sustained by the dummies during crash tests.

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