Crashes Source of Learning for ZF

Source: The following is excerpted from an article on ZF Vision Magazine and the entire piece can be read by clicking on this sentence.

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany – Too many drivers have tried to get around a traffic jam on the freeway. Now there is stop-and-go traffic on the detour that bypasses the jam, and the long line of cars ends in a bend in the road that drivers cannot see around.

The first impatient driver shears off from the line and wants to make a U-turn in order to look for what they believe will be a better alternative route. They overlook the passenger car approaching in the oncoming lane. Will this driver stop in time, or will they T-bone the side door at high speed?

At the same time, a van is approaching the traffic jam from behind. The stressed delivery driver constantly has one eye on his cell phone. Will he see the hazard lights flashing in front of him in time?

Every driver is familiar with risky situations. Head-on, side-impact, and rear-end collisions in which the occupants are seriously injured or killed happen too often. It is hard to see anything positive about such moments, but at least you can learn from them.

Crashes and dangerous situations – near misses in particular – provide a lot of information. Analysis of this data can help prevent collisions or reduce their consequences in the future. At ZF, this research is studied, and lessons learned are embedded in the DNA of the company’s active, passive, and integrated safety and security systems.

Recognizing dangers

It is about observing where real accidents and risky situations occur and finding out what chain of events brought them about in each case. The consequences of the crashes are assessed, including critical injuries suffered by people and damage caused to vehicles.

They can also forecast what the focal points for accidents and hazards will be in the future. This is one of the first tasks of the accident research being conducted in ZF Advanced Engineering:

“If we discover white spots on the safety map, we provide advice, for example whether we can cope with these new areas using existing systems or whether a new solution should be developed,” says Tobias Hänsel, Project Coordinator in Advanced Engineering. “In principle, it is an intensive search for methods for achieving better or new safety solutions that bring ZF closer to Vision Zero – the goal of zero accidents.”

Hänsel is currently using computers to see how these system ideas perform in a virtual accident. To create data for this simulation, the team made use of tools including GIDAS. GIDAS stands for German In-Depth Accident Study, an accident database held in high regard around the world.

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