IAV tests driving functions of tomorrow on airfield

Cleared for takeoff

In the automotive industry, testing grounds are in high demand. On top of that, the systems and functions used in vehicles are increasingly complex, which means more testing is needed for approval and validation. That’s why IAV operates its own testing facility on rented grounds. An airfield located some 45 kilometers away from Chemnitz offers everything anyone might need for application, homologation, and extensive tests to assess active vehicle safety (NCAP).

When he talks to customers, Sebastian Schau hears the same thing time and again: “OEMs’ testing grounds and equipment are generally booked solid, and people are urgently looking for alternatives,” says Schau, the head of the AD Sensorsets & Vehicle Validation department. “That’s why we decided to run a facility of our own. It’s completely independent, and we can perform all tests according to the NCAP standards for 2020 there, for example.”

As part of the New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP), active safety systems are tested in the vehicle. These include active passenger and pedestrian protection features. The test results offer guidance for buyers who are looking for quick, detailed information on how safe a car is.

The testing is possible on the former military airfield at Altenburg, between Leipzig and Chemnitz. The air strip was first opened in 1913, making it one of Germany’s oldest. Now, over a century on, it is home to various concrete and asphalt roadways up to 2,400 meters in length for a wide range of tests. A protected area hidden from view also allows for tests on prototypes.

The local infrastructure includes safe places to park prototypes, a conference room, target and transportation vehicles, trailers for prototypes, charging stations for electric vehicles, pedestrian facilities, an Ultra-Flat Overrunable (UFO) robot platform to move crash targets at a speed of up to 100 kilometers per hour, various dummies (vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists), steering, gas, and  braking robots, and a Euro NCAP-compliant light system for nighttime testing. A dGPS system guarantees position accuracy down to two centimeters. There is also a fully automated tool chain that the experienced team of system developers and test engineers can use to perform and evaluate the tests highly efficiently in Altenburg.

«We can work on a wide range of different topics in Altenburg, from homologation and NCAP to application in the project and beyond, to performing safetycritical test cases.»

Sebastian Schau — Head of AD Sensorsets & Vehicle Validation at IAV

“We can also work 24/7 with our testing grounds and equipment, which means we can do more than just offer turnkey projects. We can also cover periods of peak demand at our customers’ end.” These days, the airfield where historical aircraft used to take off and land is home instead to the driving functions of tomorrow

The article appeared in automotion 03/2021, IAV’s automotive engineering trade magazine. Here you can order the automotion free of charge.

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