Chalmers: Vehicle Traffic Safety course overview

What did I learn so far? 

I took two courses during study period 2 (Mid-October to December). They are Vehicle Traffic Safety and Vehicle Dynamics. What did I learn?

(if you are interested in what I learned the study period before… Internal Combustion Engine and Automotive Engineering Systems, overview here)

Vehicle Traffic Safety was an introductory course to car’s life saving systems. Duh! Swedish carmakers take great pride in automotive systems. They are so safely designed that is almost a shame not to have a crash in them.


The course had many guest lecturers from Volvo and Autoliv (company making seatbelt, airbag, etc.) and more. Many of the guest lectures are very interesting. They gave us insights into the automotive industry & forward trends. For example, Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) simulations are becoming increasingly powerful. The engineers can simulate a crash on the computer. Then the computer-simulated results are compared to the physical test data. CAE simulations are exponentially cheaper than physically crashing a car. The goal is to increase computer simulation accuracy, thus reducing car smashing.

Only in retrospect, the course was very interesting. But the content and knowledge level was often very shallow (which made many lectures very boring). I wish they could have combined the Vehicle Traffic Safety course and the general Automotive Engineering Systems course together into one. Anyways, the Vehicle Dynamics course that was taken at the same time was quite hard, so it’s nice to have a bird course at least.


For the course project, we had to physically crash empty tin cans (like Campbell soup cans) while measuring the impact forces. Of course, if you increase the force (speed) the can will become more “flattened”. We crashed the can at 12 km/hr. Later we extrapolated the data in order to estimate the amount of deformation at 15 km/hr.

Why do we do this? Aforementioned, it cost a lot to crash many new cars at different speeds. It would be more cost effective if we can run simulation tests for various designs on computer and verify the final one with a single ka-boom.


Figure: You’d be dead in this scenario…

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 10.02.48 PM

Figure: See the similarities? It is a crushed soup can!

So what was really useful from the course was learning to use (the basics of) LS-DYNA software. In the Swedish engineering industry, calculations and simulations are key. LS-DYNA is very powerful and widely used crash simulation software in the automotive world. After crushing the cans, we simulated in the software and compared values.


“Everyone believes the test results, except the experimenter.

No one believes simulation results, except the engineer who did the simulation.”

So true, our simulated results are somewhat different than our measured data…





Written by Gimmy

18 Mar 2015