It's easy to think of NASA solely as a space exploration team, but it does much more than that. NASA also conducts many tests for different types of aircraft to help design better safety systems to help people survive accidents and collisions. The video at the bottom of this story shows some of the explosive devices that NASA uses at the Langley Research Center.
This research center conducts tests on all types of aircraft from next-generation aircraft to water impact tests for the Orion space capsule. The video begins with NASA swinging a small plane on the ground with a couple of dolls on board to test the survival of the crash.
Another scene shows what appears to be a cross section of a commercial airplane that is dropped with a group of puppets inside to study the effects of a crash. The Orion capsule test was performed by dropping the capsule in a puddle of water to test the likelihood of injury to astronauts after the rain.
Despite how Orion's impact was seen from the outside, the dolls barely moved. The engineer in the video talks about how fast the injury data happens, takes less than a second. High-tech mannequins must be able to capture that data accurately and quickly.
All data captured by the large number of sensors is used to create a number that informs investigators if an injury occurred or not in the crash test. That information is used to determine if helmets, suits and other systems meet your requirements.