Mercedes-Benz employs x-ray technology in crash tests

Mercedes-Benz said it has performed the world's first crash test with a real car using x-ray imaging technology.

โ€œThis technology demonstration (proof of concept) at the EMI research crash facility in Freiburg has shown that high-speed x-ray technology can be used to visualize highly dynamic internal deformation processes,โ€ the company noted, on its website.

On board was one SID II dummy on the left-hand side facing the impact. This is a test specimen with a female anatomy, specially designed for side impact tests, the company said.

The technology has been in development for several years, with a recent breakthrough reached that involves the use of a linear accelerator with photon energy up to 9 megaelectron volts, which allows all materials commonly used in vehicle construction to be screened, according to the company. The linear accelerator generates a continuous stream of x-ray pulses up to 1,000 images per second, which is about 1,000 times as many as with conventional medical x-ray procedures, the company noted.

An image illustrating the use of novel x-ray technology in crash tests.An image illustrating the use of novel x-ray technology in crash tests.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

During the crash test, the beams shine through the bodywork and any dummies from above. A flat detector is located under the test vehicle. It serves as a digital image receiver in the x-ray system: When the radiation hits the detector, an electrical signal is generated. The intensity of this depends on how strongly the radiation was previously absorbed by the vehicle and dummy structure.

โ€œThis influences the grey value that is later visible โ€“ similar to the x-ray inspection of luggage at the airport or images of this kind taken by a doctor,โ€ Mercedes-Benz said.

Ultimately, the test confirmed the high level of occupant protection, with the passenger cell and high-voltage battery of the vehicles tested remaining intact, according to the company.

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