Motoring News

Oopsie! Volvos nose-diving to help rescue teams (v)

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – It was the most extreme crash testing yet executed by Volvo Cars, but was crucial for post-crash extrication specialists from the Volvo Cars Safety Centre to hone their life-saving skills.

For the first time, Volvo dropped a number of its current models – several times each – 30 metres from a crane and down a quarry’s cliff face.

The plan was to allow rescue services to simulate the forces active during any possible Volvo crash. That required extreme measures… a variety of Volvo models were dropped several times and before each drop Volvo engineers calculated exactly how much pressure and force were needed for each car to achieve the desired level of damage.


The testers wanted more data on, for instance, single-car crashes from very high speed, collisions with a moving truck at high speed, and when a car is hit hard from the side.

The priority: To extract vehicle occupants as fast as possible using hydraulic tools known as ‘Jaws of Life’. Extrication specialists often talk about the Golden Hour: the time taken to release and transport a crash victim to hospital.

Håkan Gustafson, a senior investigator with Volvo Cars’ traffic accident research team, told The Corner: “We’ve been working closely with the Swedish rescue services for many years because we’ve the same goal: safer roads. Not all accidents can be avoided so it’s vital to learn methods to save lives after a severe collision.”


Volvo intends for all findings from crashes and victims’ extrication will be collated and made freely available to rescue workers elsewhere to further develop their life-saving abilities.

Rescue workers usually get training vehicles from scrapyards but such cars are usually very old: in terms of steel strength, safety-cage construction, and overall durability, Volvo said, there was a vast difference between them and modern cars.


And, Volvo says, its cars are assembled with some of the hardest steel found in modern cars so it is vital for rescuers to be familiar with newer car models to find and develop new extrication techniques.

”In other words,”; Volvo says, ”these training sessions can mean the difference between life and death Which is why, at the request of the rescue services, we decided to sacrifice a dozen cars.

Gustafson again: “We usually crash-test cars in a laboratory: this was the first time we’d dropped them from a crane. We knew we would see extreme deformation but we did it to give the rescue team real challenges.”


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