DRI has a private proprietary vehicle dynamics area (VDA) test facility, located at the Minter Airfield, near Bakersfield California. This secure area is suitable for vehicle handling, braking and ride tests, evaluations of advanced collision avoidance technologies, pass-by noise measurements, and studies of driver behavior (Human Factors research).
Some specific examples of tests and evaluations are commonly done for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and automotive manufacturers include:
- NHTSA “Fishhook” rollover resistance tests
- FMVSS 126 (Electronic Stability Control) tests
- Forward Collision Warning (FCW) tests
- Lane Departure Warning (LDW) tests
- Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) tests
- Trailer Combination Sway Response and Understeer Tests (SAE J2807)
The VDA was constructed in early 2005, with Wilcox Associates, specialists in automotive proving ground development, acting as the prime contractor. The entire test surface was repaved and further expanded in 2014.
DRI conducts tests for NHTSA in support of various safety programs. Beginning with the 2006 model year DRI has been conducting rollover resistance tests at the VDA in support of the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). In 2009, DRI began conducting FMVSS 126 tests for NHTSA. In 2010, DRI began conducting FCW and LDW safety evaluation tests for the NCAP. In 2015, DRI began conducting AEB tests.
Instrumentation and vehicle preparation are normally accomplished at DRI’s shops in Torrance. The vehicles are then driven or transported to the test area, and support vehicles are available for that purpose.
As shown, a 1300 foot long, 48 foot wide run up lane leads onto the main maneuvering area, which is 300 feet wide and 800 feet long, including the throat. The run up lane includes courses for solid and dashed line Lane Departure Warning tests. “Botts dots” can also be set up as needed. In addition, a portion of the run up lane is equipped with a rail system for use with the NHTSA-specified Strikeable Surrogate Vehicle (SSV) for accomplishing AEB tests such as Crash Imminent Braking (CIB) and Dynamic Brake Support (DBS) tests. The VDA is in an isolated secure area to ensure the safety of personnel and equipment.
Shop and office space is provided near the VDA, and there are additional secure indoor and outdoor storage areas. The shop is well equipped with hand tools, a vehicle lift, tire changing machine, welder, wheel-weigher scales, water dummies, etc, to support vehicle testing.
5201 N. Minter Field Ave. Shafter, C.A. 93263
DRI can also support safety-related vehicle tests in locations throughout Southern California, and can travel to other locations as well.
In addition to the testing noted above at DRI-Minter, examples of evaluation and test programs have included:
- Trailer towing tests at proving grounds in various U.S. states
- Vehicle handling and ride tests (e.g., Fishhook, FMVSS 126) conducted at clients’ proving grounds
Ride comfort tests on various roads in the Los Angeles area
Over-the-road driver behavior studies in the Los Angeles area
To support off-site and out of state testing, instrumentation and other equipment can be pre-shipped to the site.