Mercedes-Benz conducts world's first X-ray crash test

Mercedes-Benz, together with the Fraunhofer Institute, conducts the world's first X-ray crash test in an orange C-Class saloon and hits it full on the side at 60 km/hr.

Mercedes-Benz conducts world's first X-ray crash test
Mercedes-Benz conducts world's first X-ray crash test

Stuttgart, Germany-Mercedes-Benz together with the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics (EMI) in Freiburg, has achieved a historic milestone, conducting the world's first X-ray crash test with an actual car. The test featured a SID II dummy, specifically designed for side impact tests, this is a test specimen with a female anatomy, specially designed for side impact tests.

The technology demonstration (proof of concept) at the EMI research crash facility in Freiburg showcased the potential of high-speed X-ray technology to visualize dynamic internal deformation processes. This breakthrough reveals previously invisible deformations and their precise progression, enabling thorough analysis through numerous high-resolution images.

Mr. Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Chief Technology Officer, said, the Mercedes-Benz X-ray crash sets a milestone in the development tools of the future. With a direct view into the hidden interior, it can help to draw important conclusions for the further improvement of vehicle safety. Mercedes-Benz thus confirms its role as a safety pioneer in automotive engineering.

Dr. Malte Kurfiß, Head of Crash Test Centre, Fraunhofer EMI,said, the successful X-ray crash provides us with valuable insights to further optimize our technology for capturing previously inaccessible information. Fraunhofer EMI is thus consistently pursuing its strategy of using high-speed X-ray imaging to make dynamic processes visible.

Ultrashort X-ray technology

Mercedes-Benz's vehicle safety division, in partnership with EMI, has been exploring X-ray technology for crash tests. Their breakthrough came with the adoption of a powerful linear accelerator with 1 kHz technology, enabling clear visualization of deformation processes without motion blur. This advancement allows for up to 1,000 images per second, revolutionizing crash test analysis.

Prof. Dr Paul Dick, Director of Vehicle Safety, Mercedes-Benz AG,said, the world's first X-ray crash shows that X-ray technology can provide revealing new insights. We learn what happens inside a vehicle and to the dummies during an accident. The X-ray images also offer the opportunity to further improve the model quality of the digital prototypes.

During the crash test, beams of radiation penetrate through the vehicle's bodywork and any dummies from above. Beneath the test vehicle, a flat detector functions as a digital image receiver in the X-ray system: When radiation strikes the detector, it produces an electrical signal whose intensity reflects the absorption by the vehicle and dummy structures. This determines the grey values visible in the resulting images, akin to X-ray inspections at airports or medical imaging.

Within milliseconds of impact, the X-ray system captures about 100 still images, offering detailed insights into crash dynamics. These images reveal the behavior of safety-critical components and the dummy's body, seamlessly integrating with other analysis tools and allowing uninterrupted recording by interior cameras in the test vehicle.

The EMI experts developed a thorough radiation protection concept for the X-ray crash, employing dosimeters to monitor employee exposure. Government approval has been obtained, meeting all legal standards. Elaborate physical protections, such as a 40-centimeter-thick concrete wall surrounding the building and a 45-tonne protection door have been implemented to ensure safety.