FOCUS : The winning synergy: digital simulation & full scale crash tests
For some years now, in fact close to 10 years, TRANSPOLIS has been developing, alongside its experimental activity, expertise in the field of the digital simulation of crash tests on road safety equipment.
A major part of the development cost for road safety products is linked to the need to carry out crash tests according to the conditions of European standards. It is thus very important that industrialists should ensure that the odds are firmly in their favour before committing to investments such as these. In particular, digital simulation allows industrialists to assure themselves of a strong probability of success in the quest for performance and optimisation of their products.
Many parameters have to be taken into account in the design of an optimised road safety product. It is therefore advisable to integrate these digital tools from the outset in the design of a new device and to carry out parametric studies in order to take proper account of the interdependence of physical parameters.
The use of digital tools can be a valuable aid, in particular with regard to non-linear dynamic phenomena involving major deformation. The most suitable digital tools for fine analyses of physical phenomena during crashes are software applications utilising finite element techniques. The three software applications suitable for these phenomena are LS-Dyna, Pam-Crash and Radioss. In parallel, Transpolis (formerly LIER) has developed a specific tool, the software BarrLIER, which allows the number of computations to be optimised and the most relevant to be run so as to identify the optimal solution and process the results.
Only once the results of the crash test simulations are positive is the industrialist able to make the decision to move forward, with a very good probability of success, towards the implementation of the experimental tests necessary for the certification of the product.
Now, as was the case for the automobile industry thirty years ago, digital tools have become indispensable as an aid in the development of road safety equipment. This aid is all the more necessary as this type of product is now subject to performance standards assessed with the help of crash tests, and thus subject to complex phenomena which are difficult to predict using traditional methods. It is important to note that these tools are also recognised by standardisation organisations as being suitable for the certification of products following moderate modifications.
In addition to software which aid development, these digital simulation tools also have multiple potential applications and can serve as aids in decision-making for operators and administrations insofar as they can make the evaluation of the performance of road safety devices possible at accident conditions far removed from the conditions of standards. Likewise, it is entirely possible to carry out, in a highly realistic manner, reconstructions of actual accidents in order to better understand the conditions at which they occurred and to propose and assess more suitable solutions in order to further reinforce the level of traffic safety on our roads.