Engineers from SEAT’s Technical Centre work daily, carrying out tests on each of the brand models so as to reduce to a minimum the probability of serious injury among drivers, passengers, and pedestrians in the event of an accident. The ultimate aim of such work is to design a car in the future “capable of avoiding accidents totally”, said Henrico Puttenstein, one of the engineers at the Technical Centre’s Department of Passive Safety.

The tests include low- and high-speed impacts, seat-belt activation, collapsing roofs and doors — the gamut of which are analyzed down to the millimeter via ultra-precise technical calculations. “We launch different impact elements against the car, mimicking parts of the human body, such as a leg, hip or head”, says Henrico, going into some detail. “The tests we carry out reduce the probability of serious injury in accidents to 20 percent,” Puttenstein said.

Testing has moved far beyond seat belts and other standard items that are found on vehicles today. “People may not be aware that behind the front bumper and bonnet there is a specially-designed energy-absorbing area, as well as foams of different densities” which help reduced the force of the impact, according to Puttenstein. In his opinon, safety in cars, which began in the 1970s with the introduction of the safety-belt, “has made awesome developments. We are getting more and more new materials enabling us to reinforce the bodywork even more, so that retention systems are increasingly effective,” he added.

Puttenstein’s ambition is to design a vehicle equipped with accident-detection systems and other devices which “can change the speed and direction of a car autonomously” with no input from the driver. “It will be a real smart car, designed to avoid accidents totally in the future,” he said.