- The Polygon test centre in Úhelnice, Czech Republic, is now the home of Škoda’s advanced safety technology development programme
- Active safety systems such as Front Assist, Side Assist, Crew Protect Assist and Emergency Assist were all created and developed at Polygon
- Remote-controlled robotics ensure test vehicles and obstacles move at precise speeds over specified distances and times, delivering test accuracy and repeatability
- New active safety systems on the second generation Kodiaq, such as Turn Assist and Crossroad Assist, were engineered at the Polygon
- The first Škoda crash safety tests took place in 1972, where rockets were used to propel a Škoda 100 at a concrete wall
Milton Keynes, 26 October 2023 – What do remote-controlled bicycles and inflatable cars have in common? Both are used to develop Škoda advanced safety systems at the ‘Polygon’ in Úhelnice, Czech Republic. Now the home of Škoda’s safety development programme, it’s where every new model and new piece of active technology is put through its paces.
The first Škoda crash test took place in May 1972 with a Škoda 100, while the inaugural test of an active safety system, ABS, was in 1992. In the very earliest days of safety experimentation and validation, rockets were used to fire cars down roadways into walls. Thankfully test procedures have come on a long way since, with a suite of robots and remote-controlled road users assisting with the testing.
Škoda uses the Polygon to develop its latest active safety technologies to meet its own stringent safety tests, as well as those set by Euro NCAP, contributing to a top five-star rating across the whole Škoda range. The 2023 Euro NCAP* testing protocol places a greater emphasis on a car’s ability to prevent an accident or minimise damage caused by an accident, highlighting the importance of active safety features.
Features such as Front Assist, Lane Assist, Crew Protect Assist and Emergency Assist, plus all new systems, can be tested in a safe and controlled environment. Updated systems can also be developed further, ensuring result accuracy and consistent test parameters.
Front Assist is a collision-alert safety system which monitors the situation ahead with radar. Faced with a collision it applies the brakes, preventing the car from hitting the obstacle ahead entirely or minimising the damage if a crash is unavoidable. The advanced technology can work a speed differential of up to 37 mph (60km/h), and is standard across the entire Škoda range, from the Fabia to the Superb and all-electric Enyaq.
Such features are important in helping prevent collisions not just with other vehicles but pedestrians and cyclists that emerge on the road ahead. Fatalities of pedestrians in the UK have fallen by 20% in the UK since 2019, the road user group with the single largest percentage drop in the last four years.**
In order to develop Front Assist, Škoda safety engineers have a suite of technologies and equipment at their disposal at the Polygon, including inflatable, remote-controlled pedestrians, bikes and cars. Along with robotics systems installed in the test Škoda itself, the speed and course of the car, and the obstacles, can be pre-programmed, ensuring every test is identical and allowing the engineers to tweak the safety technology for maximum effect.
A system like Crew Protect Assist can also be tested using the inflatable and remote-controlled obstacles. This feature pre-tensions seatbelts, closes the car’s windows leaving a 5.5 cm gap and closes any sunroof completely. Crew Protect Assist is available across the Scala, Kamiq, Karoq, Kodiaq, Superb and Enyaq ranges.
With a test driver behind the wheel, engineers can programme and develop features that help motorists in the event they steer aggressively away from a potential obstruction. Should a driver swerve, the car uses systems like Lane Assist to assess the car’s surroundings – whether it’s a gravel or grass roadside, a white or yellow line, or another car. It can then help the driver steer, adjusting the rate of turn at the car’s wheels.
Developing a new safety feature can take years, with hardware and software simulations, and then physical tests and up to 50% of that time taken up with validation. Emergency Assist brings the car to a gentle and controlled stop with the hazard warning lights on and the horn sounding intermittently if the driver is deemed to have been inactive for 25 seconds. Škoda engineers working on such a system will test various onboard camera or radar positions, for example, ensuring maximum coverage and in turn maximum customer benefit.
Evidence of Škoda’s commitment to safety and the hard work of engineers at the Polygon can be seen in the all-new Škoda Kodiaq. The second generation Kodiaq features new and improved state-of-the-art assistance systems for maximum protection, including Turn Assist, which helps prevent accidents when turning at junctions.
Another active safety feature is Crossroad Assist, which uses radar sensors and the front camera to warn of crossing traffic, cyclists or pedestrians when pulling out of a driveway or blind exit. Where appropriate, it triggers visual and acoustic warnings and then automatically applies the brakes.