Audi opens advanced vehicle safety centre in Ingolstadt

Equipped with significantly improved and state-of-the-art crash test facilities, the facility has a 250-metre run-up track, a mobile 100-ton crash block, and the ability to collide two vehicles at a 90-degree angle.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 20 Sep 2023 Views icon1554 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

German luxury carmaker Audi has opened the new Audi Vehicle Safety Center on the in-campus premises in Ingolstadt, Germany. Equipped with significantly improved and state-of-the-art crash test facilities, the carmaker has invested around 100 million euros in the facility. Among its key features are a 250-metre (820 feet) run-up track, a mobile 100-ton crash block, and the ability to collide two vehicles at a 90-degree angle.

The facility is Audi’s most important development facility in passive safety: Around 100 employees will work here, covering all test scenarios that are known and relevant today. During the design phase, it was ensured that the facility would be capable of performing tests that go well beyond the current requirements of Audi’s many markets. This means that the facility can be flexibly adapted to future developments.

Audi has invested around 100 million euros in the centre, which has significantly improved and state-of-the-art crash test facilities.

WIDE RANGE OF TESTING CAPABILITIES

The new Vehicle Safety Center can handle a greater number and variety of vehicle crash tests than the crash hall previously used on the Ingolstadt plant site. The facility is also much more extensive, with a core area of 130 by 110 metres (430 by 360 ft) and a height of 20 metres (65 ft). The integrated crash arena consists of a support-free area measuring 50 by 50 metres (165 by 165 ft), while the opposing run-up tracks have a total length of 250 metres (820 ft), enabling tests at speeds exceeding today’s usual requirements. An additional lane also allows right-angle car-to-car crashes involving two vehicles.

“Safety is a top priority at Audi. Our new vehicle safety center is impressive proof of this commitment,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Audi Board of Management for Technical Development. “Today’s Audi models achieve outstanding results in globally valid test procedures. But we’re not resting on our laurels. Instead, we’re continuing to improve our development and testing capabilities.”

Fast rear-end crash: The mobile deformable barrier hits the vehicle at 80kph.

A crash block weighing 100 tons is arranged in the crash arena so that it can be moved and rotated, enabling a highly efficient process for the many different types of crash tests. The area is crisscrossed with several crash lanes, enabling research on collisions between two vehicles and integral safety. The so-called ‘flying floor’ also allows vehicles to be driven sideways against obstacles. Each vehicle undergoes a high double-digit number of test scenarios before it is launched.

Belt systems and airbags are being developed even more efficiently thanks to a novel coasting slide with a delay unit. State-of-the-art high-speed cameras and energy-efficient LED lighting systems facilitate the team’s work in the Audi Vehicle Safety Center. A dummy lab, component test stands, workshops, and offices complete the building.

The concept, technology, and adjacent expansion areas were planned to meet the requirements of many years to come. They allow the Audi Vehicle Safety Center to be used flexibly and ensure that it can be equipped to meet new technological requirements, even as standards and regulations in global markets continue to tighten.

From small to large: the family of crash test dummies in different sizes.

CLOSELY COORDINATED SIMULATIONS AND TESTS

More than 60 crash test dummies of various types are used in the new crash arena – from an 18-month-old toddler to an adult weighing 102 kg (225 lb). The sophisticated THOR dummies use up to 150 sensors to obtain relevant data during the tests.

High-speed cameras and motion tracking are used to capture the sequence of events during crash tests. A large number of sensors provide physical readings. 3D scans are used to process post-test deformations digitally. All this data is fed into a back-end system. The system also includes data analyzed by experts from other test labs in Europe, Asia, and America.

These days, practically all accidents can be simulated, whether they involve pedestrians or head-on and side-on collisions. Every month, the specialists at Audi perform tens of thousands of crash simulations well before the first prototype is even built. For the crash design of the body of a single current model alone, more than 60,000 calculations are made for up to 100 different load cases. The new Audi IT Center, also located nearby on the incampus site, plays an important role here.

Despite the rapid progress in simulation technology, actual crash and component tests remain essential. This is because the various national authorities in countries where Audi models are marketed have approval procedures that require physical crash tests. In product development, on the other hand, the two methods are highly synergistic, with findings from both simulation and physical testing flowing into the process.

In recent years, all the Audi models tested, including the fully electric models, have achieved top ratings in both active and passive safety in tests designed by consumer protection organizations worldwide, such as Euro NCA and China NCAP. Incidentally, electric vehicles are subject to the same stringent requirements as models with conventional drive systems.

Tests in the United States also achieve similar results: So far this year, no fewer than seven Audi models have received an IIHS Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – five of them Top Safety Pick+ in the highest category. In addition to crashworthiness, other factors, such as crash avoidance and lighting technology, were also evaluated.

The new Audi Vehicle Safety Center represents the next major step in the advancement of passive safety at Audi. The presence of other institutions involved in safety – including Volkswagen’s software subsidiary CARIAD and the Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt – on the incampus facilitates interdisciplinary exchange.

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