📩 30/09/2023 12:19
As a premium brand, Audi works to meet high requirements that go beyond current international standards and now makes a difference with its Vehicle Safety Center. The new Audi Vehicle Safety Center, located at Audi's In-campus center in Ingolstadt, which was recently opened, draws attention with its crash test facilities with advanced and progressive technology. The facility, which was established with an investment of approximately 100 million Euros, includes units such as a 250-meter runway, a 100-ton movable crash block and sections for crashing two vehicles at a 90-degree angle.
Located in Audi's In-Campus technology park in Ingolstadt, the new Audi Vehicle Safety Center (AFZ) is Audi's most important development facility in the field of passive safety. Nearly 100 personnel work in the facility, which covers all known and valid test scenarios today. The facility was designed to be capable of performing tests that go well beyond current requirements in many of Audi's markets. Thus, the facility can be flexibly adapted to future developments.
More tests will be possible in the future
Audi invested a total of around 100 million Euros in the facility, whose construction took three years. The new Vehicle Safety Center can perform a greater number and variety of vehicle crash tests than the crash site previously used at the Ingolstadt factory site. The facility is also much more comprehensive, with an area of 130 x 110 meters and a height of 20 meters. The integrated crash pad consists of an unsupported area measuring 50 x 50 meters, while the total length of its opposing runways is 250 meters, allowing tests at speeds exceeding today's usual requirements. An additional lane also allows for right-angle vehicle-on-vehicle collisions involving two vehicles.
Stating that safety is the top priority for Audi, Audi Board Member Responsible for Technical Development Oliver Hoffmann said: “Our new vehicle safety center reflects this commitment in the best way. In fact, today's Audi models achieve outstanding results in test procedures valid around the world. However, we continue to increase our development and testing capabilities.” said.
Different testing skills
A 100-tonne crash block arranged to be moved and rotated on the crash site provides a highly efficient process for different types of crash testing. The area is diagonally marked with various crash strips. These enable crash and integrated safety investigations between two vehicles. The system, called "flying floor", also allows vehicles to drive sideways against obstacles. Each vehicle goes through a double-digit number of test scenarios before being released to market.
Thanks to the new slide system with delay unit, belt systems and airbags are developed even more efficiently. High-tech high-speed cameras and energy-saving LED lighting systems at the Audi Vehicle Security Center make the team's job easier. A crash test dummy laboratory, component testing stands, workshops and offices complete the building.
The facility concept is planned to meet long-term needs with its technology and expansion areas. This allows the Audi Vehicle Safety Center to be used flexibly and ensures that it can be equipped to meet new technological requirements even as standards and regulations in global markets continue to tighten.
Coordinated simulations and tests
The new crash site uses over 18 crash test dummies of different types, from a young 102-month-old child to a 60kg adult. Advanced THOR crash test dummies feature up to 150 sensors to collect test data.
High-speed cameras and motion tracking are used to capture the flow of events during crash tests. Multiple sensors provide physical readings. 3D scans are used to digitally process post-test deformations. All this data is fed into a back-end system. The system also includes analysis data from experts at other testing laboratories in Europe, Asia and America.
Nowadays, practically all accidents can be simulated, whether they are pedestrian, head-on or side collisions. Audi experts run tens of thousands of crash simulations every month, long before the first prototype is even built. For the crash design of just one model body, more than 100 calculations are made for up to 60.000 different load scenarios. The new Audi IT Center near In-Campus plays an important role here.
Despite rapid progress in simulation technology, real crash and component testing is required. This is because the countries where Audi models are sold have different national regulations and approval procedures requiring physical crash tests. In addition, a strong synergy is created by combining data obtained from both simulation and physical tests in product development.
Audi's long tradition of passive safety
Audi has a long history of passive safety, which reduces the consequences of a crash for vehicle occupants and other road users. DKW was already working in this field more than 80 years ago. The DKW F7 had been subjected to systematic rollover tests to gain insight into its design safety. In fact, these were the first crash tests in automotive history. Later, a specially built facility at Auto Union's Central Testing Department enabled repeatable crash tests.
Another big step was taken in 1970 with the opening of the first accident hall in Ingolstadt. The building was used for over 50 years after it was built. Of course, during this time it was repeatedly modernized and adapted to meet new requirements.
In 1972, crash test dummies were used for the first time and have become increasingly advanced and versatile over the years. Audi developed its own patented system in 1986. In the Procon-Ten (programmed contraction and stretching) safety system; In a head-on collision, the steering wheel is retracted and the front seat belts are tightened, moving towards the passenger compartment via steel cables and pulleys. The system significantly reduced the risk of head injury for the driver in the event of an accident. This invention was further improved with the widespread use of airbags.
Over the last 25 years, testing has gradually focused on digitalization, starting with the Audi A1999 in 3. Continuing studies with ever more data laid the foundations of the intelligent algorithms used today and continuing to develop. Moreover, machine learning has been playing a bigger role than ever in recent years. For example, machine learning is used to improve the software of the airbag control unit.
In recent years, all Audi models tested, including all-electric models, have achieved top ratings for both active and passive safety in tests carried out by worldwide consumer protection organizations such as Euro NCAP and China NCAP. Meanwhile, electric vehicles are subject to the same stringent requirements as models with conventional drive systems.
Tests in the United States show similar results. So far this year, at least seven Audi models have received the IIHS Top Safety Pick Award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, including five Top Safety PICK+ in the Highest Category. Apart from crash, other factors such as accident prevention and lighting technology were also evaluated.
The new Audi Vehicle Safety Center represents the next big step in the advancement of passive safety at Audi. Volkswagen's software subsidiary CARIAD and other institutions participating in the process, including the Ingolstadt Vocational School, are facilitating interdisciplinary exchanges at the In-Campus.