Vehicle Testing at DRI-Minter


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 2021. Click here to see a video of the entire area.  

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.

The 2021 expansion which increased the testing area by over 2 acres, facilitates the execution of US NCAP and EuroNCAP intersection scenarios, including:

  • Intersection Safety Assist (ISA)
  • Car to Car Turn Across Path (CCFTAP scenarios)
  • Car to Pedestrian Turning, Adult (CPTA scenarios)
  • Car to Bicyclist Turning, Adult (CBTA scenarios)

The additional line markings conform to EuroNCAP and US NCAP specifications for executing a wide variety of test protocols, including:

  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Emergency Lane Keeping (ELK), including all road edge marking types
  • Blind Spot Detection (BSD)
  • Blind Spot Intervention (BSI)

In addition to the additional types of tests DRI can accomplish, the expansion allows greater flexibility in scheduling concurrent tests, since multiple testing campaigns can be accomplished simultaneously.

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.

5001 Stearman Ave, Shafter, CA 93263

Other Locations

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.

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