source: Audi Australia
Today they are part and parcel of vehicle development, but it was more than 80 years ago that one of the first automotive crash tests was conducted, when Auto Union sacrificed a DKW to automotive science.
It’s a part of automotive design and engineering we tend to take for granted, and, in a perfect world, hope never to actually put to the test. Vehicle safety has reached extraordinary levels in the modern car, with safety systems quietly monitoring the surroundings, the driver’s inputs and the car’s motion to detect anything out of the ordinary.
With active and passive safety systems, occupants are in better hands than ever before, and Audi has long had a reputation for pushing the envelope in safety system development just as it does in performance and efficiency.
It seems inconceivable now that once upon a time, the idea of vehicle, or more accurately, occupant safety, was an after thought at best.
Stringent crash testing and safety standards are now mandated, and today, a vehicle’s ANCAP rating (Australasian New Car Assessment Program) is more important to a potential buyer than any other single factor, but once upon a time, safety was not given a great deal of thought.
But just over 80 years ago, Auto Union AG became one of the first manufacturers in the automotive industry to conduct systematic rollover and crash tests. The first rollover tests took place on August 31 and then again on October 29, 1938, in Golm, a district of Potsdam, near Berlin.
Auto Union continued to crash test vehicles, coming up with ever more extensive tests to simulate the sorts of situations that would occur in a real world accident
Initial testing looked at the effects on a vehicle in the advent of a rollover, with various DKW models with sheet metal, wood and plastic bodies used as the initial test vehicles. Other tests included ramming experiments on the premises of the Central Testing Unit (ZVA) of the Auto Union in Chemnitz, with models from the competition also participating.
Once started, Auto Union continued to crash test vehicles, coming up with ever more extensive tests to imitate the sorts of situations that would occur in a real world accident.
The results of these tests were noted and the forerunners of the solutions we are so accustomed to today began to take shape.
Today, Audi conducts tens of thousands of crash tests each month, and the science of engineering vehicles to better cope with the rigours of higher speed impacts has produced such engineering milestones as the Audi Space Frame (ASF) as well as Audi’s myriad safety systems now employed across the range to not only protect the occupants in the advent of a collision, but to help avoid the collision in the first place.
The results of these tests were noted and the forerunners of the solutions we are so accustomed to today began to take shape