Calspan opens new multi-million dollar crash test facility


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Calspan plans to do even more safety tests for cars in Buffalo, thanks to its new multi-million-dollar crash test facility.

As airbags deploy and glass shatters – it’s all about the impact. For people at Calspan, that impact goes far beyond the very crash tests they perform.

“We take pride in the fact that what we do here is very important work. It saves lives,” said Lou Knotts, CEO of Calspan.

Calspan will be able to run 500 crash tests a year, for national and international car manufacturers, thanks to the new 20 million crash test lab on its campus in Buffalo.

“This is state of the art equipment. It allows us to test indoors,” said Knotts.

The building has two main crash halls that can test cars against barriers, walls, and other cars. An underground rail controls a car’s speed up to 75 miles an hour.

“There’s a big piece of concrete here where the car can go impact on,” said Knotts.

Even the test dummies have been upgraded. Some have human-like ribs. There’s a photo pit at the point of impact that has cameras in the floor to show what the crash looks like from underneath.

“I think we’re at the dawn of a whole new era in terms of our transportation, how we get around,” said John Yurtchuk, chairman of Calspan.

This facility also opens a new lane for nontraditional carmakers to join the game.

“We can have a lot of secrecy in here and have clients in here that really don’t know, people don’t know that they’re here and they can test their prototype, so that’s a really big difference,” said Yurtchuk.

Another difference in this facility, Yurtchuk says, is that it allows crash testing for the future for cars without drivers and steering wheels. That’s something Yurtchuk says is on the horizon.

“The technology to avoid a crash is really the future. And the ultimate expression of that is cars being driverless,” said Yurtchuk.

Yurtchuk says this is just the beginning to show the greatest impact Calspan continues to have on safety.

Crash testing at the new building is expected to start in February. The old outdoor facility is now being used to crash test barriers and see their ability to protect people and buildings from cars.

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