Sure, crash testing cars horizontally is extremely useful, but who wants to be cooped up inside a drab crash test facility all day? Remember how exciting it was when your professor told you class would be held outside? Well, crash testers are no different and enjoy mixing it up a bit in the great outdoors, too. That’s why Volvo dropped a bunch of new cars and SUVs from a 100-foot crane to the ground. Well, that and also because doing so gave rescue workers extremely valuable data, training, and experience dealing with modern cars and materials.
Also, I suspect Volvo internal reports suggesting that 93 percent of wrecks happen in situations where coyotes, chasing fast-moving species of fowl, end up plummeting off cliffs. These tests are ideal for evaluating vehicles’ crash safety in such situations.
Volvo claims this series of tests is the “most extreme crash test ever executed by Volvo Cars,” and represents a significant change for rescue service crash testing and training, who normally use cars ten to 20 years old from scrapyards.
Materials and designs of cars have changed significantly, so the opportunity to test rescue methods on modern cars is very important. As Volvo’s Cars Traffic Accident Research Team describes it:
And in terms of steel strength, safety cage construction and overall durability, there is a vast difference between modern cars and those built fifteen to twenty years ago. And new Volvos are made of some of the hardest steel found in modern cars.
This makes it crucial for rescue workers to constantly update their familiarity with newer car models and review their processes, in order to develop new extrication techniques. In other words, these training sessions can mean the difference between life and death. So at the request of the rescue services, Volvo Cars decided to step things up a notch.
Okay, enough jabber. Time to watch a bunch of cars dropped from a crane:
Yes, yes, very satisfying. Now fill one with chili and do it, Volvo! Do two at once! Can that crane, like, throw them? Try that!
It’s worth mentioning that dropping cars from cranes isn’t exactly new; Volvo’s Viking brother Saab used to do it, too, though from much smaller distances, indoors, and to primarily test rollover protection:
Dropping new cars from extreme heights to aid first responders, like Volvo is doing now, is pretty novel, and I don’t think has much precedent.
And, yes, I am in the process of requisitioning a crane so we can add similar tests to our car review procedures. Manufacturers, you know where to send your press vehicles.