By >Daimaou - G.G-B
[Toyota Safety Day] Toyota’s Crash Test experience and $2.5 Million USD Crash Test Dummies.
Ok, I admit that we where pretty far from the actual crash test in a secure location with other journalist to enjoy one of the most impressive and interesting demonstration that I have witnesses in a long time!
Like every automakers Toyota is working hard to make cars more and more reliable and not only safer to drive but also safer to the others, and you can imagine that bigger the company is, bigger is the task.
Being capable to test a care in all possible ways needs a dedicated “play Ground” where engineers torture and test cars before their launch as well developing and fine-tuning new technologies.
It is often impossible or quite difficult to access/enter/visit these kinds of facilities and this for obvious reasons, but Toyota is a company like no others and being one of the largest care manufacturer in the world, Toyota felt it was also its responsibility to explain to people how things are done and how their work will lead to a safer world where car and people will leave in total harmony.
This mysterious and very secretive testing facility is just 2h away by car from the center of Tokyo near the Mount Fuji and Gotenba and called the Higashi Fuji Test Center. As you would imagine, it is not easy to enter such place and each vehicles need to be “pre-registered” to be able to access the first parking lot where all cameras and other camcorder have to be checked and where computers and phones had to be either temporarily “confiscated” or “sealed” in a way that you could not shoot photo with them or plug them to any Ethernet cable laying around.
Once all checks done, we finally had the chance to visit the first and very impressive collision test facility, a huge building of 280m long and 190m larger where each day Toyota test basic car to car collisions, Barrier Collisions, Rollovers and other component tests.
Entering this Collision facility is like entering one of NASA’s testing grounds, everything is neatly organized and where nothing is left alone unattended for.
Once the quick introduction tour was over Toyota’s team guided us to the very impressive Car-to-Car Collision runway where Toyota engineers are testing each car safety features by simulating a scale 1:1 crash with two fully operational brand new cars.
I am sure that you may have seen such crash test in video before, and as a Motor Journalist I have seen my fair share of those, but being there for real is rather intimidating. Almost empty, with virtually no sound, in a spot less environment and with its collision area under almost perfect light, this place feels like a rocket launching pad and where for the first time I will see a 100% controlled car crash happening right in front of me.
For today’s event Toyota prepared for us a very basic crash test, with in one side a Toyota Crown Sedan and to the other Side a Toyota Vitz (Replaced by a Prius during the first round of test) and throw them to their demise with in an uncanny head to head accident where Crash Test dummies replaced actual drivers.
In a Pure silence, a warning alarm will blow out of nowhere and a 15 second count down announced that our crash test is under way…. Attached to throwing systems equivalent to Airplane Carriers catapult, our two cars will reach a maximum speed of around 55km/h before wrecking one against another in a final explosion of broken glass, plastic, wrecking metal and airbag smoke.
It is very difficult to describe this kind of experience, everything happens so fast and despite being warned, you barely have the time to really see what’s going on in details with things flying all over the place and dummies thrown into airbags that you almost forget that what you are seeing in front of you is not one of these Hollywood Action movie but something real that unfortunately too many people suffered from.
If you checked our video above, and you really should, it is hard to believe that both cars where at a 55km/h maximum speed, I mean look at both cars and what is left of them, think about what it would have been if instead of another cars you would put someone there trying to cross a street… This is not only impressive but this is totally frightening as well, 55km/h is rather “slow” and common nowadays in cities so let’s imagine what would happen if these two cars where driving at around 110 or 160km/h?
Think this is already impressive? Yes you will be right to think it is, but I am sure that you will also be very impressed to know how many cars per years Toyota are “testing” like this or should I say wrecking for the fun of learning and improving their vehicles. No Ideas? Well here you are, each and every year Toyota conducts 1,600 Tests like this per years involving one or two car each times! 1,600 Test per year equal to 133 tests a month or over 4 tests a day, and this if Toyota is working 365 days per years without any day off!
Simply put you can be sure that at least 4 cars per days are wreck/destroyed over there in the name of science and safety, talk about commitment!
Cars are one thing, but Crash test dummies are another. While during these test crash test dummies are almost never damaged, they are however not what I call cheap neither. And Toyota owns a shit load of them in pretty much any shape, size and gender with even pregnant ones! Now The most popular of them all is the AM50 of American 50 cost in average 12 Million yen or around $150,000 USD. Limited in its configuration Toyota decided to build-up their very own AM50 of Hybrid III AM50 High-Meka Dummy, while Toyota could not comment on the real market value of this Hybrid III AM50 High-Meka Dummy they however explained us that it cost them 200 Million Yen or $2.5 Million Dollar in R&D to built it!
The last but not the least, back in the 80s car manufacturers and before crash test dummies where made necessary, car manufacturers like Toyota used live pigs into cars with special seat-belts to check the effect of a car accident on humans, but today, and luckily for us all, including pigs and other animals, there are strict laws in this matter making Crash test dummies… a necessity!
Big Thumbs-up to Beno-San (Image-Japan) who helped to cover this event!