Kia Buzz meets with the crash test experts October 2nd, 2009
By Colin (Woo Yung) Jang
Kia BUZZ Editor
Auto manufacturers are currently racing to make their vehicles safer. In this Kia Buzz posting, we interviewed researcher Jung Moon Jin in charge of conducting crash tests to produce safer vehicles at Kia’s Namyang R&D Center.
What are the steps involved in conducting a crash test?
In general, the process begins with an inspection of the car, followed by the removal of fuels, installing impact sensors and measuring equipment on each part of the car, placing dummies in the car, revision of test weight and, finally, setting the cars according to the test type before the actual test is conducted. After the test, we collect data, inspect the cars, and measure the car’s deformation.
When the test is over, how do you analyze the data and improve car safety?
We run a comprehensive analysis of the car’s deformation, injuries sustained by the dummies and video footage of the crash recorded by a high speed camera. Through the analysis process, we come up with numerous plans for the parts that we think need improvements. Using computer simulations and sled test (a mock impact test), we apply the best solution to cars and then conduct additional crash tests. The same procedure is repeated over and over again until we attain a satisfactory level of car safety.
How do you collect data from the dummies?
There are many sensors placed inside a dummy. A separate measurement device collects data from the sensors every 0.0001 second. Specially designed sensors are placed on each part of the dummy, like its head, neck, chest, pelvis, femoral region, shin, and top of the foot to measure collision acceleration, impact load, bending moment and compression that are forced on the actual passenger.
What happens to the cars after the crash tests?
All cars that have completed testing and been examined for data and analysis are disposed according to company procedure.
Crash safety testing standards and rating criteria are different in each country. How do they differ in Europe, the Americas, and Asian Pacific regions?
Every region has its own NCAP evaluation system. The most representative are those used in the US and Europe. In the US, high speed frontal and side impact tests are conducted and evaluated separately. Starting with model year 2011 vehicles, the current system will be replaced by a more comprehensive evaluation method that combines the results of the above two tests and rollover resistance. Europe has a much more rigorous standard that includes high speed offset crash, side impact and pole side impact tests. Europe further tightened its testing standards in 2009 by switching to a comprehensive NCAP rating scheme to include vehicles’ pedestrian protection, whiplash protection and safety equipment.
Can the same car (or model with same specs) receive different test ratings depending on interior options or environmental factors?
Crash tests of the same model can sometimes produce results with very minor differences, but for the most part, they are similar. The test team considers variables from multiple options and environmental factors so that the tests for vehicle development are conducted under extreme conditions for load and speed.
What’s included in a crash test?
There are many varieties of crash tests. Although there are many variables like the speed and test conditions, you can categorize crash tests into the following: the most well-known fixed barrier frontal impact, side impact, rear impact, frontal offset impact, rear offset impact, fixed barrier frontal impact on an incline, car to car crash, pole impact, pole side impact and rollover resistance tests.
The new Euro NCAP is said to be quite strict and particular, with diverse tests to measure cars’ protection of adults, children and pedestrians. Are there any special tests that Kia Namyang R&D Center is preparing or has conducted for Euro NCAP?
We factor in crash safety performance from the very initial stage of product concept development. This means that crash safety is considered during all stages of planning a new car, from designing its exterior to creating the optimal car structure and interior/exterior parts. From the early stages of development, we produce separate vehicles for Euro NCAP crash tests so that the finished vehicle will have undergone countless of Euro NCAP testing simulations.
What’s the difference between a crash test and an actual vehicle crash?
With real cars there is such a broad range of crash conditions like the speed, situation and form of impact that it’s difficult to predict the outcome of a real vehicle crash with the standardized crash test. However, the crash test conditions that we recreate here at Kia were developed by experts from various countries after lengthy research. So you can say that our tests best represent actual real-world crashes.
In particular, if a real car were to crash under the same conditions as our crash tests, there would be no difference. Cars that receive high marks in crash tests provide greater protection to both passengers and pedestrians in a real crash.