Roadside hardware, such as traffic and work zone barriers, bridge railings, and crash cushions, prevent vehicles from leaving
the road at dangerous locations. Crash testing of a large variety of vehicles into this hardware, as a means of optimizing the
hardware design, is extremely expensive, often costing approximately $500,000 and 10,000 person-hours per test. The increasing
diversity of automobiles and trucks, as well as the advent of the next generation of vehicles, such as hybrids, electrics, and
fuel cell automobiles, and the use of more sophisticated occupant dummies ($120,000 per dummy) will add significantly to future
crash testing costs.
Role of High-Performance Computing
High-performance computing environments can simulate the complex interaction between vehicle and roadside hardware. The results
can be viewed using high-fidelity visualization and animation environments, such as in virtual reality. Because roadside hardware
is sensitive to vehicle characteristics (mass and height of center of gravity), bumper and hood geometry, and roadside geometry
(slopes, embankments, ditches, etc.), “crashworthiness” simulations help to minimize the construction of expensive
prototypes and the experimental verification of product designs. More simulations can be performed that produce results in a shorter
amount of time.
Side-by-side comparison of a full-scale crash test with a computer simulation, performed by the National Crash
Analysis Center’s (NCAC’s) Highway Safety and Infrastructure Group. Using TRACC's high-performance cluster computer,
researchers at USDOT funded organizations, NCAC and TRACC can perform similar simulations using much less computing time.
Performance of roadside hardware simulation using LS-DYNA® by the Texas Transportation Institute.