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Corus new crash barrier design to make an impact on road safety

Corus : 12 November, 2004  (New Product)
Corus, the international metals company, has developed a roadside barrier system that exceeds the latest European EN1317 standard for the containment of vehicles and is expected to help improve road safety in crash situations.
The EU legislation EN1317 provides a Europe-wide benchmark for the performance of road restraint systems, redefining the standard for the containment of vehicles in the event of a crash whilst giving far greater protection to vehicle occupants.

The combination of ground breaking computer simulation techniques and over 40 years of experience in designing and manufacturing crash barrier systems, has enabled Corus to produce a new system that not only embraces the current EU standard but also is expected to meet future legislative requirements.

At the heart of the new system has been an innovative computer simulation model developed at Corus Automotive Engineering in Coventry. This unique engineering approach has already yielded early success. In January 2004, the company announced that it had successfully developed the first of the new generation of road safety systems, its Celsius highway bridge parapet system (Celsius HBP 200). That system has now been approved by the Highways Agency following extensive crash testing at MIRA, the international centre for automotive research and development.

However, to develop an enhanced roadside barrier design posed additional challenges for Corus’ computer simulation model. This included the requirement to stop a vehicle from going through the barrier whilst allowing particular components of the barrier system to fail in a controlled way so that a ‘cushioned’ impact was experienced by the occupants. Unlike the bridge parapet system, the new roadside barrier also had to be able to factor-in different levels of containment (or ‘working-widths’) required to deal with obstacles found on a typical highway, such as lighting columns and road signs.

Commenting on how Corus has met the challenges, Steven Sirman, Project Leader, Corus Automotive Engineering, said: 'It was clear to us that using traditional methods for developing new designs by relying on destructive testing was going to be prohibitively expensive and time consuming. We were therefore keen to develop and use an advanced computer modelling approach to help reduce development time and costs, and improve responsiveness when re-designs were needed.

“While CAE methods like this are standard practice in car design, the additional difficulties caused by highly complex barrier to vehicle interactions, and the significantly higher 110km/h barrier design speed, often means a large number of physical crash tests are needed. This physical testing process also typically uses outdated vehicles that do not accurately reflect modern car designs.'

To get around this and create the sophisticated simulation routines and models required to simulate the vehicle dynamics, Corus enlisted the help of the MG Rover Group which supplied vital, realistic vehicle engineering data based on its latest Rover 75 model.

Mike Lawrence, Business Manager, Corus Distribution & Building Systems highlighted another important aspect of this new approach: 'This new Corus technology has enabled highway barrier system designers to test new concepts and work through a much greater number of iterations of designs in a fraction of the traditional timeframe - and we can now optimise the gauge and grade of material to account for a much larger number of variations in containment levels and highway obstacles too; what used to take years, now takes us just months and potentially even weeks'.
As well as successfully meeting EN1317 requirements, Corus’ new roadside barrier has also achieved the top Acceleration Severity Index (ASI) rating, which measures how a barrier absorbs and takes energy out of a crash in a smooth and controlled manner, providing even greater vehicle occupant safety.

Mr Sirman concludes: 'As with the bridge parapet system, MG Rover Group’s support was vital to the design process. In addition to supplying realistic vehicle data, MG Rover Group provided help for final validation testing, enabling us to critically examine the computer model prediction against the actual performance of our roadside barrier system. This allowed us to optimise the simulation and ultimately the design of the barrier'.

Corus intends to use its advanced model and innovative approach to generate a full portfolio of vehicle crash safety systems that meet EN1317 for the UK markets.
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