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Ford safety lab crashes 20,000th vehicle

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Ford Motor Company’s Safety Lab in Dearborn, MI reached a milestone recently when the lab conducted its 20,000th vehicle crash test.

According to Ford, the company conducted its first crash test in 1954. It took the company 40 years to conduct the first 10,000 full-body crash tests and only 20 years for the second 10,000 crashes at the Dearborn facility.

Virtual necessity
Physical crash tests are complex, time-consuming and expensive to conduct. In addition, the wide variety of body styles, options and safety regulations in different countries where Ford sells vehicles makes virtual testing a virtual necessity. Virtual crash testing will allow the company to gather more safety data faster than is possible with physical crash testing.

To facilitate growing demands for virtual crash test data, Ford says it is increasing its investment in computing power by 50 percent this year.

Faster data collection
The technology investment will allow Ford to more quickly conduct virtual crash tests – some of which can take up to a full day to run – while also collecting more data. More than 2 million crash test simulations have been run over the past 10 years. The use of advanced computer crash test models also allows Ford safety teams to more quickly evaluate and verify a variety of designs.

Ford Crash Barrier Building History

  • 1954 First crash test conducted by Ford (Car-to-car test, conducted outdoors)
  • 1955 North Crash Barrier built, one of earliest industry efforts
  • 1964 North Crash Barrier reconstructed to SAE standards (reinforced concrete, crash test #170)
  • 1968 North Crash Barrier enclosed and environmentally controlled
  • 1975 High peak roof enclosure constructed for vehicle-to-vehicle crash tests
  • 1980 Major expansion added South Crash Barrier with second vehicle-to-vehicle test area, computerized dummy calibration lab
  • 1995 10,000th crash test
  • 2005 15,000th crash test conducted
  • 2011 New shuttle system and drive retuning for 75mph vehicle-to-vehicle test
  • 2013 Mass and fixture anchoring plates installed for alternative barrier test site

Ford says more than 500 engineers around the world are dedicated to safety at Ford. These engineers run thousands of computer simulations before the physical tests are conducted, including frontal impact, side impact, rear impact, roof strength and safety systems checks.

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