- Engineers from SEAT’s Technical Centre carry out raft of tests to guarantee safety for drivers, passengers and pedestrians
- Current tests reduce risk of serious injury in accidents to 20%
Engineers from SEAT’s Technical Centre work daily carrying out a raft of tests on each of the brand models so as to reduce to a minimum the probability of serious injury amongst drivers, passengers and pedestrians in the event of an accident. The ultimate aim of such work is to design a car in the future “capable of avoiding accidents totally”, says Henrico Puttenstein, one of the engineers at the Technical Centre’s Department of Passive Safety.
Low- and high-speed impacts, seat-belt activation, collapsing roofs and doors… a whole raft of tests which are analysed down to the millimetre via ultra-precise technical calculations. “We launch different impact elements against the car, mimicking parts of the human body, such as a leg, hip or head”, says Henrico, going into some detail. “The tests we carry out reduce the probability of serious injury in accidents to 20%”, he declares.
The work of this young engineer and his team begins at the very early, drawing-board stage of a car project, which is“when the volume of a car is designed and we have to provide room to comply with safety requirements”, he explains. To Henrico, a car “is a grand compromise between an attractive-looking design and safety concerns”.
A car has many safety elements, other than safety-belts and airbags. “People may not be aware that behind the front bumper and bonnet there is a specially-designed energy-absorbing area, as well as foams of different densities” which help reduced the force of the impact. In the opinion of Henrico safety in cars, which began in the 1970s with the introduction of the safety-belt, “has made awesome developments”. “We are getting more and more new materials enabling us to reinforce the bodywork even more, so that retention systems are increasingly effective”, he adds.
Henrico’s ambition is to design a vehicle equipped with accident-detection systems and other devices which “can change the speed and direction of a car autonomously”, with no input from the driver. “It will be a real smart car, designed to avoid accidents totally in the future”, a future that Henrico hopes is not too far off.