October 30, 2003

Honda opens Ohio Safety Research Centre, commits to new safety initiatives

Raymond, Ohio and Torrance, California – Honda R&D Americas, Inc., has opened an all-new Automotive Safety Research Facility that features seven advanced safety testing laboratories, including the world’s most sophisticated high-resolution crash barrier block and the world’s first pitching crash test simulator. The 78,000 square-foot facility located on the campus of Honda R&D Americas in Raymond, Ohio, represents an investment of $30 million in advanced safety testing facilities that will play an integral part in Honda’s global safety research and development efforts.

Honda also plans to apply advanced safety technologies to the full range of Honda and Acura products over the next several years. In keeping with its commitment to provide high levels of safety protection for all its customers and for all road users, the company intends to:

  • include Front Side Airbags, Side Curtain Airbags and Anti-Lock Brakes as standard equipment on all Honda and Acura vehicles, with the exception of a small number of specialty vehicles, before the end of 2006,

  • include Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and rollover sensors for side curtain airbag deployment on all Honda and Acura light trucks, including all SUVs and minivans, before the end of 2006,
  • apply, over the next six to seven years, Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure, which offers enhanced occupant protection with reduced aggressivity toward other vehicles, to all new vehicle platforms. The 2005 model Honda Odyssey minivan and Acura RL sedan will be the first models to carry this new technology, and
  • expand the use of features designed to reduce injuries to pedestrians.

Honda’s Vehicle Stability Assist technology uses braking and throttle control to improve the vehicle’s dynamic stability in situations such as emergency handling maneuvers or on slippery surfaces, while Side Curtain Airbags provide added protection in side impacts or in the event of a rollover. The system also employs sensors that trigger airbag deployment in the event of a rollover. This advanced supplemental restraint system is already featured as standard equipment on the 2004 Acura MDX.

The Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure, which represents a further evolution of Honda’s proprietary “G-Force Control” (G-CON) collision safety body technology, employs an innovative new front-end frame structure that reduces the potential concentrated force of an impact by dispersing and absorbing crash energy over a larger area. The design also helps reduce the potential for misalignment with the frame of the opposing vehicle. Taken together, these features result in improved compatibility between vehicles of different sizes with significantly enhanced occupant protection and reduced aggressivity toward other vehicles in a collision.

Future Honda models will also incorporate Honda’s latest thinking in pedestrian-friendly body design. Already, Honda and Acura vehicles including the current models of Accord, Civic, CR-V, Element and Pilot, along with the Acura RSX, TSX and TL are equipped with a number of these features including specially designed hood structures, hood hinges, front frame construction and breakaway wiper pivots.

The new Ohio crash test facility is capable of conducting a wide variety of both real world and simulated crash tests including full frontal, angled barrier, side impact and offset crash tests, along with simulations of various tests related to the performance of safety systems such as airbags and seatbelts. Additional capabilities of the Automotive Safety Research Facility include laboratories for airbag testing, interior impact testing, pedestrian safety testing, and structural strength testing of roofs, side doors, seatbelt anchorages and child seat anchorages.

A key feature of the facility is the world’s most sophisticated crash barrier block, a 100-ton moveable cube with sides that can be configured for different tests, allowing for quicker and more efficient test cycles. The four-sided block incorporates a high-resolution crash test barrier with 450 load cells (90 5″ x 5″ cells and 360 2.5″ x 2.5″ cells), that allows Honda engineers to understand in greater detail the distribution of crash forces for further improvements to the company’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure. The lab’s test track uses hydraulic power and sophisticated electronics to accurately launch test vehicles at speeds ranging from 2.5 to
60 mph. Side impact tests can be conducted in both the 90-degree and 27-degree configurations.

The facility also boasts the world’s first crash test simulator with pitching capabilities for more accurate simulation of real world crash
dynamics. The four pistons on the pitching system can translate up and down as much as ten inches which can then pitch the test sled at a rate of up to 0.25 degrees per millisecond to a maximum angle of 15 degrees. This pitching motion simulates the lifting of a vehicle’s rear end in a frontal collision, allowing engineers to gather data on the performance of safety systems such as airbags and seatbelts that more closely reflect real world performance.

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