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Mercedes-Benz’s Latest Stunt: A Crash Test You Can See Right Through

Seeing Right Through the Crash: Mercedes-Benz and Fraunhofer’s X-Ray Vision Revolutionizes Car Safety

In an unprecedented display of technological might, Mercedes-Benz, in collaboration with the Fraunhofer-Society, has left industry onlookers and safety enthusiasts wide-eyed. They’ve achieved a feat straight out of a sci-fi movie: conducting the world’s first X-ray crash test. The spectacle unfolded with an orange C-Class saloon, traveling at a brisk 60 km/h, being intercepted by a crash barrier in a loud and meticulously planned collision. What makes this event not just another crash test is the sophisticated gadgetry involved—a linear accelerator, doubling as an X-ray camera, mounted on the hall’s ceiling, peering into the very skeleton of the automotive chaos below.

This test wasn’t merely for show. Mercedes-Benz and the Ernst Mach Institute (EMI) from Fraunhofer aimed to bring the unseen to light—literally. With the high-speed X-ray technology, they’ve provided a crystal-clear view of the internal tumult within vehicle structures and crash dummies during the impact. This allows for an unprecedented level of analysis, making the invisible intricacies of crash deformations and dummy injuries visible for the first time.

Markus Schäfer of Mercedes-Benz hailed the X-ray crash as a milestone in automotive safety development, showcasing their continued commitment to pioneering safety innovations. Dr. Malte Kurfiß of Fraunhofer EMI and Prof. Dr. Paul Dick of Mercedes-Benz echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the invaluable insights gained for optimizing vehicle safety and improving digital prototype models.

The key to this breakthrough was the use of a linear accelerator capable of emitting a continuous stream of X-ray pulses, achieving up to 1,000 images per second. This allowed the researchers to capture every minute deformation in the vehicle’s structure and the dummy’s body during the crash, without any motion blur, offering a dynamic view into the crash’s impact on safety-relevant components.

In ensuring safety beyond the crash test dummies, the team implemented an exhaustive radiation protection concept, ensuring that the high-stakes operation posed no threat to human observers.

Mercedes-Benz’s innovative approach to crash testing is part of its broader “Real Life Safety” philosophy, which has been shaping its safety research and vehicle design for decades. This philosophy, grounded in the reality of accident scenarios, has propelled Mercedes-Benz to conduct up to 900 crash tests a year, alongside numerous sled tests to evaluate component safety meticulously.

The X-ray crash test is not just a testament to Mercedes-Benz’s and Fraunhofer EMI’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of vehicle safety; it’s a peek into the future where transparency in safety testing can lead to safer vehicles on our roads. As Mercedes-Benz continues to explore the potentials of X-ray technology in crash testing, it’s clear that they’re not just looking through their cars; they’re looking into the future of automotive safety.

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