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First crash test in the history.

For 60 years now, Mercedes-Benz has been really crunching them up: the first crash test in the history of the brand took place on 10 September 1959. A test car slammed head-on into a solid obstacle. This marked the beginning of a new era in safety research. From then on, this made it possible to study the behaviour of vehicles and occupants in car accidents more closely using test cars and crash test dummies. At present, the Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety (TFS) in Sindelfingen conducts about 900 crash tests plus around 1,700 “sled tests” each year. A test mule (body shell or test assembly) is mounted on the test sled and subjected to the forces arising during a real vehicle crash. Mercedes-Benz consistently set new standards for crash test procedures and testing facilities that have been adopted across the industry and thereby resulted in improved vehicle safety in the interests of all road users on a lasting basis.

A crash test is carried out with a Mercedes-Benz vehicle.

More crash tests than required by law or for ratings.

Compared with evaluating a car damaged in an actual accident, the major benefit of a crash test lies in the ability to collect data during the collision. To this end, the vehicles are equipped with a number of sensors and high-speed cameras. Various types of dummies fitted with measuring equipment are available to provide reproducible data on the forces to which the human body would be subjected in a real car accident.

The company’s crash tests exceed the number and complexity of the legally required tests: state-of-the-art simulation methods support the development process in this context. Up to 15,000 realistic crash simulations and about 150 vehicle crash tests may be required to make an entirely new vehicle ready for customer operations. In addition to the impact configurations mandated for the global type approval of a vehicle, this also includes rating tests and particularly demanding in-house crash tests. One example in this regard is the roof drop test, which the company conducts additionally.

 A crash test is carried out with a Mercedes-Benz vehicle.

More precise and efficient with X-ray vision and digital methods.

Mercedes-Benz is working together with the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, the Ernst Mach Institute (EMI), on the dynamic X-ray crash. In future, this imaging process will enable the crash experts to see the deformation process of components also from the inside and analyse it. This will make it possible to determine the causes for a certain component behaviour more quickly. The data from the X-ray crash are merged with computer-based simulation models to create highly dynamic 3D simulations. The high-speed X-ray images would also make it possible to improve the already high simulation quality further.

At the same time, Mercedes-Benz is stepping up the digitisation in the area of crash testing as well: augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) allow making crash preparations even more efficient. Potential applications of digital technologies include the creation of a measuring point catalogue for measuring the vehicles in a virtual space and attaching up to 150 measuring points on the car with the aid of AR data goggles.

 The X-ray of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle.

Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety (TFS).

In November 2016, Mercedes-Benz opened the Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety (TFS), one of the world’s most modern crash test centres. Its flexible crash track concept not only provides facilities for classic crash tests, but also creates the conditions for entirely new test set-ups: vehicle-to-vehicle (Car2Car) collisions from all angles, the evaluation of PRE-SAFE®, automated driving manoeuvres with a subsequent crash, crash tests with trucks. The Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety has sufficient space for the requirements of tomorrow. The longest crash track is over 200 metres long. 

There are a total of five crash blocks that are impacted during crash testing. One of them can be moved freely in space and another can be rotated around the vertical axis. For efficient operation, these two crash blocks are preconfigured with a different barrier on each of the four sides. By virtue of a mobile partitioning system, the complex allows up to four crash tracks to be in operation at the same time.

Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety (TFS).

In November 2016, Mercedes-Benz opened the Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety (TFS), one of the world’s most modern crash test centres. Its flexible crash track concept not only provides facilities for classic crash tests, but also creates the conditions for entirely new test set-ups: vehicle-to-vehicle (Car2Car) collisions from all angles, the evaluation of PRE-SAFE®, automated driving manoeuvres with a subsequent crash, crash tests with trucks. The Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety has sufficient space for the requirements of tomorrow. The longest crash track is over 200 metres long. 

There are a total of five crash blocks that are impacted during crash testing. One of them can be moved freely in space and another can be rotated around the vertical axis. For efficient operation, these two crash blocks are preconfigured with a different barrier on each of the four sides. By virtue of a mobile partitioning system, the complex allows up to four crash tracks to be in operation at the same time.

Mercedes-Benz has been setting standards for 60 years.

The new crash tests proved that the safety body shell devised by Daimler-Benz engineer Béla Barényi worked in practice: it dissipates a significant portion of the kinetic energy released in an accident. In concert with the seat belts, this can protect occupants against serious injuries. The compelling concept became the industry standard. In the decades that followed, Mercedes-Benz consistently set such international standards and in doing so improved vehicle safety in the interests of all road users on a lasting basis. Despite being little used in the early years, from the 1960s onwards, crash testing increasingly established itself as a reliable tool for the optimisation and testing of vehicle safety.

 The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is used as a crash test vehicle.

Stand-ins in all size and weight categories.

They have one of the toughest jobs in the car industry: dummies sit in the vehicles during crash testing as stand-ins for human road users. The test dummies are elaborately designed to approximate people as closely as possible and cost up to several hundred thousands euros a piece. The TFS of Mercedes-Benz is home to around 120 crash test dummies. With the new crash test centre, Mercedes-Benz has changed over to digital in-dummy measuring technology. The advantage is that compact data lines have replaced thick bundles of cables.

The dummies of Mercedes-Benz.

In-dummy measuring technology.

While thick and stiff bundles of cables previously protruded from the dummies and the heavy mannequins could only be put in their intended positions in the vehicles with great effort, today there is only one cable coming out of them. The crash test preparations go accordingly more quickly. In addition to the reliability and the data quality, the advantages of the “in-dummy measuring technology” are less use of space and greater flexibility of the cables. This involves converting the analogue measuring data recorded during the crash test into digital signals and sending them to a central data recorder via a BUS system. The data can then be transferred for the analysis of the crash by means of a system cable.

The dummies of Mercedes-Benz.

New test procedures.

The flexible and efficient crash track concept at the TFS not only provides facilities for classic crash tests, but also creates the conditions for new test procedures: Car2Car collisions at all angles, the evaluation of PRE-SAFE®, automated manoeuvres followed by a crash, crash tests with trucks, electric vehicles and other alternative powertrains. All in all, around 70 different crash test configurations are possible. There is also a sled test facility to test components, and new methods of measuring vehicles before and after the crash.

Mercedes-Benz traditionally conducts more, and more demanding crash tests than legislation and ratings require. The numerous test facilities at the TFS assist the company in this pace-making function. Mercedes-Benz is working on approximating the crash test in the hall even more closely to what happens in real accidents. For example, PRE-SAFE® systems are also to be assessed even more precisely when e.g. emergency braking or evasive action precedes the actual impact. 

New test procedures.

The flexible and efficient crash track concept at the TFS not only provides facilities for classic crash tests, but also creates the conditions for new test procedures: Car2Car collisions at all angles, the evaluation of PRE-SAFE®, automated manoeuvres followed by a crash, crash tests with trucks, electric vehicles and other alternative powertrains. All in all, around 70 different crash test configurations are possible. There is also a sled test facility to test components, and new methods of measuring vehicles before and after the crash.

Mercedes-Benz traditionally conducts more, and more demanding crash tests than legislation and ratings require. The numerous test facilities at the TFS assist the company in this pace-making function. Mercedes-Benz is working on approximating the crash test in the hall even more closely to what happens in real accidents. For example, PRE-SAFE® systems are also to be assessed even more precisely when e.g. emergency braking or evasive action precedes the actual impact. 

Crash tests as a new tool of safety research.

On 23 January 1951, Daimler-Benz AG filed for a patent on the passenger car body shell with a safety passenger cell. The invention of Béla Barényi was granted Patent No. 854 157 under the title “Motor vehicle, in particular for passenger transport” in August 1952. This concept was a decisive step forward for the passive safety of the motor car. The safety body shell of Barényi was the result of close observation, technical imagination and the willingness to think like a visionary. At that time, the prevailing opinion was still that the greatest possible body rigidity provided the best occupant protection. The safety body shell did away with this notion. It became accepted throughout the industry and developed into a standard of safety technology. The safety body shell also helped protect other road users, a declared goal at Mercedes-Benz: it also absorbs some of the impact energy for other road users with less protection who are involved in the accident.

Béla Barényi and a group of people look at a test vehicle.

From component testing to the first crash test.

In the late 1950s, it was in particular the development of the seat belt that made a reliable test procedure necessary for this new in-car restraint system. In 1959, an initially free-hanging test sled was developed which was accelerated into a fixed obstacle. This first model gave way to a horizontal test sled on rails which was accelerated by steel springs. The test subject was a test dummy purchased in the United States, which was also used for the first crash tests and was given the nickname “Oskar” by its technicians.

In addition to the seat belt, padded steering wheel impact absorbers and similar components were tested in the accident simulator. As early as the mid-1960s, these first-generation test sleds were replaced by a new impact sled onto which the complete body shell of a passenger car could be mounted for load tests if required.

The experimental dummy “Oskar” from Mercedes-Benz.
Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert CO₂-Emissionen kombiniert Stromverbrauch im kombinierten Testzyklus

Product may vary after press date on 20.10.2019.

1 Die angegebenen Werte wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren ermittelt. Es handelt sich um die „NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 1 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

4 Angaben zu Kraftstoffverbrauch, Stromverbrauch und CO₂-Emissionen sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe des WLTP-Prüfverfahrens ermittelt und in NEFZ-Werte korreliert. Eine EG-Typgenehmigung und Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.

6 Stromverbrauch und Reichweite wurden auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind abhängig von der Fahrzeugkonfiguration. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

7 Angaben zu Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe der UN/ECE-Regelung Nr. 101 ermittelt. Die EG-Typgenehmigung und eine Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.