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Honda conducts virtual, ultra-realistic crash simulations

During a GTC developer conference held by Nvidia in San Jose, California, Honda's Technical Leader for crash safety, Eric DeHoff, showed how the company uses computer simulations as an alternative to ultra-expensive collision tests.

While most automakers already rely on virtual crash testing to identify areas of a car's safety cage that may need to be reinforced, the graphical renderings only make sense to a trained safety engineer. Honda's program uses photorealistic modelling of the entire vehicle to produce extremely accurate crash test results that just about anyone can decipher.

In fact, DeHoff claims Honda's virtual crash tests are almost as accurate as real-world tests conducted by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). For the more recent small overlap test, DeHoff said the virtual testing was the least accurate due to only a year's worth of historical data. However, in his world "least accurate" means that the difference in metal deformation between virtual and real varied up to 15 mm. 

Another benefit of virtual crash testing is time saving. Whereas Honda's computers can render and run a virtual test in 12 hours, according to DeHoff, real-world testing requires days to build each model -- not to mention that they cost from $200,000 to $1 million apiece.

Will this toll the bell for our beloved crash test mummies?

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