“The automotive just isn’t necessary!”
As a tagline for a [checks notes] automotive firm, it’s proper up there with ‘wouldn’t you actually somewhat have a Buick?’ (reply: would actually somewhat not, thanks). Although one actually somewhat suspects the creator of this slogan – Paul Dick, Mercedes-Benz’s automobile security boss – doesn’t care about advertising one-liners. He’s a critical man with a critical mission. And with out hesitation, he’s already off.
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“We’ve got a roof check which is our personal inner requirement – it’s not a regulation,” he tells TG. “It’s a particular check. Half a metre from the bottom we drop the automotive onto its roof. We see from our area analysis that a whole lot of accidents occur with ‘overlap’. The place does it come from?”
He fixes a stern expression and gestures enjoying with a cell phone. “Increasingly more, like this,” he says. “Don’t do that. You lose deal with the road for only a second after which a baby seems, or one other automotive, or a bicycle, or a pointy curve.” After which, nicely, y’know.
Or perhaps you don’t. There are 1.3 million highway visitors fatalities yearly, the equal of 12 massive airplanes crashes a day. “We aren’t within the temper to simply accept this,” Dick says. Which is why he spends his days sending large Merc tanks into each other at pace.
He began his days at Mercedes 22 years in the past, placing his training in supplies forming to make use of shaping aluminium, excessive power metal, sizzling stamping and hydroforming. “I began my profession within the prototype store,” he says, “nevertheless it’s fascinating as a result of all through my profession I used to be at all times linked to the security guys. Within the prototype store we’ve got to get the ‘body-in-white’ very stiff and inflexible.”
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He then spent 5 years engaged on corrosion safety, then to creating the body-in-white, and has spent the previous two and a half years because the director of car security. And as director, he outlines the 4 security ‘phases’.
Part one is driver help to keep away from an accident – you’ll be conversant in the myriad digital guardians on board a contemporary automotive. Part two is bracing for a potential affect (Merc’s ‘pre-safe’ tech that does issues like pressure the seatbelts and so forth) whereas section three is defending the occupants if an accident is unavoidable. And that’s the place “clever materials applied sciences” come into play.
Have a look at this cutaway of a Mercedes EQS saloon, and also you’ll spot the vary of supplies in play right here in varied locations. The sunshine blue sections are all forged aluminium, whereas crimson is high-strength metal. The darker blue factors are constituted of extruded aluminium elements, whereas that purple B-pillar is sizzling fashioned ultra-high-strength metal. Naturally there’s common metal (darkish gray) and aluminium sheet steel (gentle gray) dotted about too.
“We’re engaged on a whole lot of used, recycled materials to have a closed loop,” Dick says, “particularly with aluminium. We already use recycled metal in our vehicles.” They’re at present engaged on making castings much more light-weight.
Buried inside this inflexible, multi-material physique lies what passive security engineer Julia Hinners calls the ‘security mind’: a small yellow field that takes information from the automotive’s myriad sensors, and decides precisely what to do within the occasion of a crash – like, for instance, what airbags to deploy (from entrance, to aspect, to belt) and at what stage, to then shutting down the excessive voltage circuit for EVs.
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All of it factors to the rationale for Dick’s earlier proclamation about why the automotive doesn’t matter.
“We’re engaged on saving folks’s lives,” he says.
Loads of crashes are automotive to automotive, Dick explains – overtaking, crashing into one another, this ‘overlap’ talked about up high. “So if in case you have a giant automotive and a small automotive, we’ve got to take a look at how they work together with one another. You want the house [for the car to deform safely] and make sure the room contained in the cabin is protected.
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“Due to this fact we want the best materials in the best place. Like in an EQS or an S-Class, you may put in ‘profiles’. Aluminium profiles take in a whole lot of power, much more than metal, however a smaller automotive like an EQA wants excessive power metal,” he says.
Mercedes conducts accident analysis inside Stuttgart itself. They’re involved with the county police, who alert the crew to an ‘uncommon’ accident – one thing the crew haven’t but skilled or encountered. “We wish to find out about that collision situation, about what occurred, the situation proper earlier than, how the drivers behaved. It may be just a little tough, and we after all need to get consent,” says Hinners.
“However once we can we collect a whole lot of info, doc the deformations and speak to the occupants about their accidents,” she provides.
Talking of deformations, Mercedes is eager to emphasize that the extent of security isn’t depending on the drivetrain, although electrical vehicles naturally require totally different consideration. With out the huge combustion engine lump up entrance for instance ass a block, says Hinners, engineers can develop entrance profile buildings “precisely as we wish”. The ground-mounted battery is surrounded by extruded aluminium with a number of house, “to permit deformation outdoors the cells”. This retains the battery protected within the occasion of an accident.
Ah sure, the accident. The reside crash check – the primary public check Mercedes did involving a pair of electrical vehicles – was, should you’ll excuse the unintended pun, surprising. Carried out in a big facility that feels prefer it may double for a Half:Life set, replete with all method of pictures, video and lighting gear, a gazillion sensors and an EQS SUV and EQA, it showcased the outcomes of ‘essentially the most frequent kind of accident’.
Mercedes’s check far exceeds what Euro NCAP requires: this one was sooner and concerned two reside vehicles a lot heavier than wanted. And nothing can put together you for a way horrific it’s, even in such managed circumstances and crammed solely with crash check dummies.
Certainly, these dummies function a tonne of sensors measuring all method of bodily masses. Hanna Paul, Merc’s dummy-technology engineer, explains how the info these sensors generate in an accident are reported. “Relying on the physique area, they’re then linked to the likelihood of accidents. We generate so much of knowledge. Think about you’ve bought 150 sensors in every dummy, and you’ve got as much as 4 dummies in every automotive, after which you could have extra measurements taken contained in the automotive. There’s an incredible quantity of knowledge generated for every crash.”
Contemplate Mercedes conducts three crash assessments per day, and as much as 900 per 12 months, and also you get some thought of simply how a lot information it’s logged over time. Whereas dummy expertise began within the Sixties, feminine and youngster dummies had been solely launched within the early Noughties, bettering the standard of the info to account for various biomechanics and physique sizes. Paul stresses Merc doesn’t construct the dummies, however are actively monitoring the event, and there’ll be larger advances on this expertise sooner or later.
A future during which Mercedes needs to wipe out highway fatalities altogether. Very like Volvo, the corporate is engaged on a lofty goal. “We don’t simply need zero visitors fatalities by 2050 and a halving within the variety of visitors fatalities and critical accidents by 2030 in comparison with 2020,” mentioned Merc’s expertise boss Markus Schäfer. “Our purpose by 2050 is zero accidents involving a Mercedes-Benz automobile.”
Seems, the automotive is fairly necessary.