The 2015 Chevrolet Trax is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick, but the designation wasn’t easy for the little subcompact crossover to earn. In order to ensure the Trax was as safe as possible, Chevrolet ran special computer simulation crash tests, allowing them to virtually crash the Trax in addition to setting up real-world crash tests, The Detroit Free Press reports.
GM’s new computing system, which the automaker hasn’t disclosed much information on, uses computer models of the Trax with 5 to 6 million elements for each and every part of the vehicle. This includes every nut and bolt, piece of sheetmetal and component in the vehicle’s structure as well as its occupants. Engineers are able to crash over a dozen protoypes or designs at one time and see which design protected its occupants best, saving money and time on real-world crash tests.
“Five years ago computer models only had two or three million elements,” Chevrolet’s global computer engineering manager told the Free Press. “It could take a couple of days to run a crash simulation then. Now we do it overnight.”