With high car gas prices and an increased awareness of “being green” by reducing carbon dioxide emissions of automobiles, car manufacturers are attempting to meet customer wants while staying within the lines of government safety standards.
The most direct method of improving fuel economy as well as promoting “greenness” is to create cars that are lighter and smaller. Yet, the physics of car collisions never changes, it is very difficult to understand why some cars are safer than others, whether they are small or large. For example, a recent Insurance Highway Institute Study showed that the small, fuel efficient, green Smart Cars earned top auto accident saftey ratings.
Our car accident attorneys are pleased to hear that future car crash simulations will be even safer actual car crash tests, because this may potentially decrease the number of car accidents every year.
When car consumers are thinking about buying small cars, a simple question still pops into their mind (despite the car having passed government standards), “Are these little cars going to sacrifice us when we get into a car accident with them?” Car accident safety was a big question for BMW when the company decided to reintroduce the Mini in the United States. They wondered if people would be too scared of automobile accidents to buy the tiny coupes?
Apparently, according to selling statistics, Minis have sold beyond the company’s initial expectations, because car consumers were convinced by good results in government automobile crash tests.
Because of this, many car companies have been willing to invest into car crash test simulations. Ever since car crash tests were invented, they have been done by slamming cars into actual physical barriers, moving targets, etcetera. Meeting crash test safety standards has become such a priority for automobile manufacturers that they are using powerful computers and software to test car designs that exist only on computer screens – even before physical prototypes are created. Yet, after these computer simulations, physical car crash tests are still necessary, because not all factors have been taken into account in the computer simulations.
But in the future, car companies are looking at doing automobile crash tests entirely by computer simulation. About 20 years ago, when car crash simulation was just born, a computer model of a car crash involved just a few thousand mathematical equations.
These days, however, the models involve at least 3 to 5 million equations. That increases the safety factor by a huge increment. Realistically, when simulated car crashes occur, there are about 30 million frames taken every second of the crash to analyze the danger within each individual frame. This is still not accurate enough, at least not as accurate as actual car crashes.
Computer simulations will eventually be developed to the point that they will be safer than actual prototype car crash tests. This is because actual crash tests cannot simulate every possible situation. The difference is that one physical crash test equals exactly one simulation. So when computer simulated crashes become accurate enough, they will become the safety standards of the future.
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