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.

“This 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,” 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.

“This influences the grey value that is later visible – similar to the x-ray inspection of luggage at the airport or images of this kind taken by a doctor,” 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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