Volvo calls it ‘the most extreme crash test’ it has ever undertaken. For the first time, it has dropped several new cars from a crane – from a height of 30 metres.
The aim is to help rescue services to prepare for any possible crash scenario, and to simulate the forces that occur in the most extreme impacts. Volvo says it replicates the damage found in high-speed single-car accidents, side impacts and collisions involving a truck.
Usually, rescue workers are trained using vehicles from scrapyards. There is a vast difference between a car built in 2020 and one built as recently as 2000. Steel strength, safety cage construction and durability are just three ways car design has progressed in two decades.
Ten cars were dropped from the crane several times. Rescue workers used hydraulic tools to simulate the extraction of car occupants following a collision. The emergency services often talk of the ‘Golden Hour’, which could be the difference between life and death.
The priority is to get a patient to hospital within an hour of an incident. A safe and swift extraction plays a huge part in this process.
‘Safer roads for all’
Hakan Gustafson, a senior investigator at the Volvo Cars traffic accident research team, said: “We have been working closely together with the Swedish rescue services for many years. That is because we have the same goal: to have safer roads for all. We hope no one ever needs to experience the most severe accidents, but not all accidents can be avoided. So it is vital there are methods to help save lives when the most severe accidents do happen.”
“Normally we only crash cars in the laboratory, but this was the first time we dropped them from a crane. We knew we would see extreme deformations after the test, and we did this to give the rescue team a real challenge to work with.”
Volvo’s aim is that no one should be killed or seriously injured in one of its new cars. Every new car it sells now comes with a limited top speed of 180kph (112mph).
Its cars will also come with a Care Key, which allows drivers to set additional limits for younger and inexperienced family members.