Article Search


Computer simulations and real crashes


Safety engineering in the five-star FG Falcon

The FG Falcon’s safety engineering was developed using state-of-the-art crash simulation and Ford Australia’s most comprehensive physical test programme ever, using crash test facilities in Detroit and at Volvo in Sweden.

Sophisticated computer modelling allowed two full years of safety architecture development before the first prototype cars were built.

“One of the real benefits of our crash simulation technology is that it allows us to freeze each virtual crash and view it from every possible angle while we assess the performance of the individual elements of the car,” says senior Ford engineer, Adam Frost.

“This would simply not have been possible with a physical test. The ability to thoroughly examine every aspect of the vehicle’s safety performance so early in the development process allows us to fully optimise every possible aspect of the vehicle’s safety.”

Speedy analysis of all results was made possible through the use of Ford Australia’s super computers, located at the company’s headquarters in Detroit.

Ford Australia tripled its super computer capacity in the lead-up to the FG Falcon programme, which allowed the safety development team to accurately model vehicle details as small as 3mm.

“The turnaround time of each crash simulation is only four hours when >>  (cont. from p35) implemented via our super computers. To put that in context, running the same simulation on a home PC would take approximately 18 months.”

More than 5000 simulated crashes were conducted, and were supplemented by a comprehensive physical test programme.

More than 38 different full vehicle crash modes were investigated, with 426 fully representative vehicle crash tests performed, along with an additional 600 crash-related subsystem and component tests.

“Despite the accuracy and speed advantages of improved [computer simulation] technology, a comprehensive physical crash test programme is also an important element of vehicle production,” says Frost.

“We test for 38 different types of full vehicle crash modes. The tests include full frontal, offset, and side impact – all at a variety of different speeds and vehicle load situations.”

Auto Trader New Zealand