Crashing your way to a pass

The big auto manufacturers must do it.  But did you also know that specialists like Savaria do it too? To ensure your personal safety, Savaria crash tests every wheelchair van conversion design under a strict pass/fail system conducted by independent research firms such as MGA in Wisconsin.  Because the original van is modified structurally, successful crash testing proves the integrity of the vehicle is maintained after the conversion process.   Recently, Pierre Cote, Engineering VP for the Savaria Vehicle Group talked about his experience with crash testing.

“Even though you know you’re there to watch a brand new vehicle hit a wall at 50km/h, you never get used to it.  It’s an unsettling scene of flying debris and abrupt noise. Watching the crash of our newest rear entry wheelchair van design is bittersweet.  You see all your team’s R & D work, your months of modelling and hours of decision making crumpled on purpose.  But when the crash is over, it’s like a sunrise.  You see how amazingly well your design was built.  The expected things happen as airbags deploy and your dummy passengers come to rest safely in their seats.  You breathe a sigh of relief.  But it’s not about luck.  My team’s job is to do their homework so even though we’re all a little anxious at the test facility, our “pass” results are really a celebration of our hard work.”

“Manufacturers like us should only sell successfully crash tested vehicles.  As a company, we made a decision that regardless of cost, our position is simple.  We choose safety.”

The Savaria rear entry Dodge Caravan 2011 design is available through authorized Savaria dealers.

Watch the slow motion crash test below:


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Walking his way into the future

When Robocop hit theaters, it was completely fictious and improbable that a severely wounded cop was able to walk, move and fight crime again. But that movie came out 24 years ago and there are changes afoot.

Last month, Austin Whitney took his first steps in four years after being paralyzed in a car accident.  He choose his commencement for this momentous coming out. It was his dream to walk on stage and receive his diploma and in front of the 2011 graduating class he did just that.

Robocop and a paraplegic Berkeley graduate come together in reality through the concept of bionic limbs which in 2011 are made by ReWalk . Led by mechanical engineering Professor Homayoon Kazerooni, a team of graduate students built an exoskeleton, which allowed Austin to fulfill his dream. Prof. Homayoon has had experience working with robotic exoskeletons, as founder of Berkeley Bionics, a company that is currently in the trial process of another exoskeleton that is expected to be available by 2013.

The exoskeleton worn by Austin, weighs 40 pounds and took 9 months to get to a comfortably usable stage. You can read more about this fascinating product including how it works and watch Austin receive his diploma here.


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