CHEEKTOWAGA, NY - You may be familiar with the crash test dummies from the old television commercials, or possibly from the musical group bearing their name. But this story is about the human-like machines that are placed in the seats of cars to see how safe a particular automobile is during a crash.

The human-like figures that go through the worst that can be thrown at them in places like Calspan's brand new, state-of-the art crash test facility, just the latest innovation from a long line of great minds here in Western New York.

As for the crash test dummy, it all started herein Western New York, back in the days that Calspan was known as Cornell Aeronautical Laboratories. In 1948, they came up with a one-dimensional, silhouette-like model of a person to sit in automobiles during crash tests.

One of the earliest crash test dummies was called thin man. Previously, cadavers were actually used, but the models provided important data. They even developed a family for thin man, with a child-size figure named "Half-Pint".

Calspan Chairman John Yurtchuk holds that history near and dear. "I always say we are caretakers of the technology. We want to keep it growing so we can keep hiring engineers and support people to have great jobs in WNY in this arena."