Volvo Cars has executed its most extreme crash tests ever in order to provide rescue services workers with a valuable training opportunity. Rather than crashing cars in a laboratory, the Swedish carmaker dropped several new cars multiple times from a height of 30 metres using a crane.

So, why did Volvo bother to go through all this trouble? Well, extrication specialists usually get their training vehicles from scrapyards, but these cars are often older models, which are significantly different from modern cars that are designed differently and have higher strength steels in their construction.

As such, these rescue workers must ensure they are familiar with newer car models to review their processes and develop more effective extrication techniques. The Volvo Cars Safety Centre also provides cars it has crash tested for training purposes, although there are still limitations on what can be simulated with ordinary crash testing.

At the request of the rescue services, Volvo decided to step things up a notch by bringing out ten different models to drop from a crane several times. This will help rescue workers to be prepared for any possible scenario and simulate the forces unleashed in the most extreme crashes, such as single-car accidents at very high speed, accidents whereby a car hits a truck at high speed, or accidents whereby a car takes a severe hit from the side.

In such situations, occupants inside the car are likely to be in a critical condition, and the main priority is to get people out of the car and to a hospital as quickly as possible. This often involves using hydraulic rescue tools known in the industry as “jaws of life.” Extrication specialists often mentioned something called the golden hour, which the where they need to release and get a patient to the hospital within one hour after the accident has happened.

“We have been working closely together with the Swedish rescue services for many years. That is because we have the same goal: to have safer roads for all. We hope no one ever needs to experience the most severe accidents, but not all accidents can be avoided. So, it is vital there are methods to help save lives when the most severe accidents do happen,” said Hakan Gustafson, a senior investigator with the Volvo Cars traffic accident research team.

“Normally we only crash cars in the laboratory, but this was the first time we dropped them from a crane. We knew we would see extreme deformations after the test, and we did this to give the rescue team a real challenge to work with,” he added.