MILLBROOK, UK - Engineers at the Millbrook Proving Ground laboratories in the UK have developed a side-impact simulator that can accommodate the entire length of a car's passenger compartment.
'Previous systems, typically using a HyGeSled, could only simulate small elements of a vehicle interior,' said Ian Bodger, manager of Millbrook's safety laboratories.
'The new system allows large sections of the interior to be tested quickly and reproducibly, making it ideal for the development of integrated safety systems or for testing multiple systems in a single impact.'
Fully instrumented dummies can be placed in all occupant seating positions.
The test area can also include both side doors, the A, B and C pillars, the sill and the header rail. High-speed cameras provide a detailed visual record of impacts.
The Millbrook system offers 'substantial time and cost savings' over barrier impact testing of door beams, impact-absorbing trim and side airbags, said Bodger.
'We expect it to be particularly valuable in helping to meet the tight time scales for compliance with European side-impact safety standard.'
Millbrook's crash simulator uses a wheeled cradle similar to that of a conventional side-impact barrier rig.
It also uses a combination of passive elements to reproduce the multiple accelerations typically found in side impacts.
A computer creates a mathematical model of the crash pulse, and an innovative seat-mounting system moves to simulate the deformation of the floor during the impact.
Millbrook is owned by General Motors, but it has operated independently since 1988. Since then, Millbrook has carried out test projects for more than 450 companies from 23 countries.
Millbrook has just extended its Component Testing Laboratory and installed:
New equipment for testing suspension struts, springs and roll-bars.
A salt-spray corrosion chamber.
A dust chamber.
Two new thermal cycling environmental chambers.
Seat durability rigs.
An electro-magnetic shaker.
'With increasing pressure on costs and timescales we see component testing becoming a major growth area,' said Ellis Wilkinson, manager of the NVH and Component Test Laboratories.
'We expect to see our component test business double every year until at least the end of this century.'