For an unlucky few, a severe accident will indeed be a learning experience. And the Audi Accident Research Unit puts these lessons to good use.
Audi's team of researchers recreates and deconstructs accident events, taking more than 400 photographs of the vehicle and logging approximately 1,300 technical details in its database to improve safety systems. The carmaker has formed a partnership with the AO Foundation, and Audi's accident database will now be available to the organization's global association of orthopedic surgeons.
The partnership will be a new link in the accident research chain. A case isn't closed when engineers figure out how an accident happened--the AARU also documents how it physically affected the victims and how they heal, and psychologists work with the driver to uncover his perception of the chain of events that led to the accident and how he reacted.
This information is anonymous and used by Audi to improve vehicle safety features. The partnership with the AO Foundation will open up the accident database to surgeons who may use the cases in their work on the operative treatment of bone fractures and other bone injuries with implants.
As a result of the partnership, Audi could also be included in orthopedic surgery research opportunities and gain more insight into how crash victims get injured and heal. This kind of data helps Audi engineers design airbags and vehicle unibodies, including where to strengthen the structure and the size of crumple zones. Audi's A3, A4 sedan, and Q5 midsize SUV have been an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety top safety pick since 2009. The Q7, Audi's full-size SUV, has also graced that list in recent years. To make the IIHS top safety pick list, a vehicle must receive the institute's highest safety rating on all four of its crash evaluations.