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Wednesday / 19 June 2024
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Mercedes performs world’s first X-ray car crash

In a world-first demonstration, Mercedes-Benz in partnership with the Fraunhofer-Institute for High-Speed Dynamics has performed a crash test on a C-Class sedan using X-ray equipment to see the true extent of damages that a car accident does to the vehicle and its occupants.

The landmark exercise has brought to light deformations and internal processes that were previously invisible to testing systems, thus allowing for more precise analysis and improved vehicle safety in the future.

“The Mercedes-Benz X-ray crash sets a milestone in the development tools of the future,” said Markus Schäfer, Chief Technology Officer and Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group.

“With a direct view into the hidden interior, it can help to draw important conclusions for the further improvement of vehicle safety.”

X-ray insights

Mercedes and the Fraunhofer-Institute have been investigating the application of X-ray tech in car crash tests for several years but have never been able to effectively combine the two until it had the breakthrough revelation of employing a linear accelerator with 1kHz technology as the radiation source, said the automaker.

This device is far more powerful than the X-ray flashes previously used in trials, enabling all materials commonly used in vehicle construction to be screened.

The linear accelerator generates a continuous stream of X-ray pulses, each lasting only for a few milliseconds, making it possible to record the deformation of the vehicle body without motion blur.

“This means that up to 1,000 images per second are possible. That is about 1,000 times as many as with conventional X-ray procedures,” according to Mercedes.

During the crash procedure, a barrier ram struck the sedan’s side at 60km/h with an SID II dummy seated inside facing the impact. This dummy is a test specimen with female anatomy, specifically designed for these types of side-impact tests.

While this was taking place, the 1kHz beams shone through the bodywork and test subject from above onto a flat detection plate mounted below the vehicle.

The intensity at which the plate recorded the radiation from the X-rays then explained how strongly the beams were absorbed by the car and dummy.

In the milliseconds of the actual impact time, the X-ray system shot around 100 still images which combined into a video to provide fascinating insights into what happens inside safety-relevant components and in the dummy’s body during a crash.

“In this way, it is possible to observe in detail how the thorax of the dummy is pressed in or how a component is deformed,” said the automaker.

In producing the innovative crash monitoring system, the two companies also had to pay special attention to health and safety regulations.

Experts at Fraunhofer-Institute drew up a comprehensive radiation protection concept, which included dosimeters being used as monitors to ensure that employees are not exposed to radiation.

Additionally, elaborate physical protection measures included an additional 40cm-thick concrete wall around the building and a protection door weighing around 45 tonnes.

The official recording of the X-ray crash test, uploaded to YouTube by a third-party automotive news site unaffiliated with Mercedes-Benz, can be viewed below:

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