Mercedes-Benz keeps setting new standards with respect to crash test procedures and test facilities – and continues to do so to the present day. Here are three examples of what the crash experts of Mercedes-Benz are currently working on and what ideas they have for the near and distant future.
X-ray technology in crash testing: Together with the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, the Ernst Mach Institute (EMI) in Freiburg, the Vehicle Safety Unit of Mercedes-Benz is testing the use of X-ray technology in crash testing. This allows studying the behaviour of the insides of safety-relevant components. Ultra-fast X-ray technology produces still images of defined areas in razor-sharp quality during a crash test. The number of frames has been increased significantly in recent years: at present, a linear accelerator allows recording 1000 frames per second. The data from the X-ray crash are merged with computer-based simulation models to create highly dynamic 3D simulations. Mercedes-Benz is pursuing two goals with the X-ray technology: the evaluation of the simulation and thus the improvement of the reliability of the projection. And unplanned behaviour of a component can be analysed on the X-ray video and thereby allows the cause to be determined.
Active side crash sled: In addition to complex crash tests involving complete vehicles, Mercedes-Benz also conducts about 1700 sled tests each year. These are crash simulations of individual components or assemblies such as restraint systems using electrically accelerated or decelerated test sleds. Sled tests not only save costs, they also provide insights during an early project phase when no complete vehicles exist yet. Currently the specialists are working together with the TÜV Süd in Prague (Czech Republic) on the application for an active side crash sled. This system is to simulate the side impact based on the “sled-on-sled” principle. At an early phase, alongside the door itself, the technical equipment, the geometry of the trim parts and the material could also be improved.
Use of virtual and augmented reality technology in crash test preparation: The vehicle is measured precisely before and after the crash test. This is done to be able to determine the deformation in specific, relevant spots of the vehicle as part of the photogrammetry, an optical measuring method, for example, on a door after a side impact. At present, up to 150 of these points are affixed to the car based on a vehicle-specific catalogue of measuring points before the vehicle is calibrated. With the aid of Virtual (VR) and Augmented (AR) Reality this can be simplified in no less than two ways in future. When developing the catalogue of measuring points, the test engineer and workshop employee can use VR to look at a digital model of the vehicle in a virtual space and define the points together. In the process, they can also find out if the vehicle offers easy access in this area for attaching the points. When actually attaching the points to a real vehicle, the employee wears special AR goggles that show them the precise position of the points on the car.
 Virtual reality (VR) is the representation and simultaneous perception of reality and its physical characteristics in an interactive virtual environment generated by a computer in real time. Augmented reality (AR) refers to the computer-based augmentation of the perception of reality.