Volkswagen opens new safety center in Wolfsburg

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A new three-story building with around 8,000m² of floor space has been constructed at Volkswagen’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

As its centerpiece is a new state-of-the-art crash sled facility, which provides the OEM with new capabilities to simulate lateral and rotational vehicle body movements both horizontally and vertically.

“This state-of-the-art sled system enables us to reproduce the dynamic movements of a crash as well as simulate so-called ‘pre-braking’ scenarios,” said Dr Gunnar Koether, head of vehicle safety at Volkswagen.

This is possible thanks to a highly sophisticated and precisely controllable hydraulic system on the sled, which can simulate both forward pitching as well as lateral yawing of the test vehicle immediately prior to impact.

“In doing so, we can accurately demonstrate the operation of modern active safety systems such as emergency braking in our sled tests,” Koether added. In such a scenario, the test vehicle is accelerated to 80km/h and then braked shortly before impact. This type of pre-braking corresponds to a real world accident scenario.

“At the new safety center we are bringing together all of our safety-related activities under a single roof. That not only enables us to make use of new testing technologies, but also it affords us shorter distances and additional synergy effects,” commented head of technical development services, Kai Schweingruber.

In the sled facility, vehicle tests at speeds of up to 100km/h with total weights of up to 3 tons are possible. The underfloor cable-rail system in the floor of the hall is over 140m in length. Thanks to a new pallet change system, the next test can be prepared as the current test is being conducted, which increases facility efficiency and throughput. Around 800 sled tests are conducted each year by Volkswagen technical development.

There are also multiple new test benches located on the ground floor of the hall. On the first floor, the crash test vehicles are first prepared for and later thoroughly analyzed after the test. In the second floor there are the workstations for the development team. The new high-tech sled was built directly adjacent to the second crash test facility, which entered operation in 1988. Both facilities are served by the same control room.

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Rachel's career in journalism began around five years ago when she started working for UKi Media & Events, having recently graduated from Coventry University where she studied the subject. Her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the groundbreaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of the automotive and tire industries.

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