Fields of Activity
The experts at AZT deal with different questions in the field of automotive technology. Their fields of activity cover both conventional vehicle-related issues and innovations in the automotive area.
Crash tests for improved repairability
Since 1982, the crash repair test developed in the Allianz Center for Technology (AZT) has been considered the criterion for the repairability of vehicles following smaller accidents. In Germany, an independent trustee derives the vehicle type class for fully comprehensive insurance from the results of these tests; as such, they have a direct impact on the insurance classification of cars which are newly introduced onto the market.
Today, the crash repair test is represented by an international working group (www.rcar.org) and has been standardized throughout the world for the front and rear. As such, these tests are also similarly used in other countries around the globe for the insurance classification.
In a frontal crash, the vehicle hits a hard barrier at a speed of 15 km/h; the barrier covers 40 % of the front of the vehicle and stands at an angle of 10 degrees. The bumper and the components behind it on one side have to dissipate the energy. Similarly, in a rear-end crash, a 1,400 kg barrier is driven against the stationary car.
Since a stationary car is - unlike the barrier - deformable, the crash repair test corresponds to an accident involving a real vehicle travelling at approximately 25 km/h collision speed.
Both testing methods are aimed at covering typical, everyday accidents, and should hence not be confused with tests conducted to assess occupants' safety (ECE, NCAP), which have to address accidents of significantly higher, albeit considerably less frequent, degrees of accident severity, and are hence primarily focused on occupants' safety.
However, the positive results achieved in the laboratory have to also be reflected in good energy absorption demonstrated by the vehicles in a real accident. This is possible only if bumpers interact without sliding against each other. In this conjunction, an international working group (rcar.org), headed by the Allianz Center for Technology, hence developed a test which is aimed at ensuring the geometrical compatibility of various vehicles, and, in the experiment, also examines the interaction of the bumpers until the vehicles have come to a standstill.
This bumper test was defined in 2006, and has been binding since 2010 for the type classification of all vehicles newly introduced to the market. It is evaluated by an independent trustee in the classification process - in addition to the crash repair test.
For the bumper test, the minimum requirements for the bumper dimensions are first examined. If these requirements are satisfied, a test drive may be conducted. During the bumper test, the vehicle collides into the middle of a hard barrier while travelling at 10 km/h. The bumper should not slide over or under the barrier, and the components behind it, such as the expensive cooler or the rear panel, should not undergo any damage.
The bumper test has been established as a standard throughout the world (rcar.org). Unlike the more spectacular experiments for the evaluation of occupants' safety (ECE, NCAP), this test addresses more frequent, everyday accidents, and is aimed at reducing costs.
"In developing crash test standards, the Allianz Center for Technology has a significant influence on the crash performance of modern vehicles at low and medium collision speeds. This helps avoid unnecessary repair costs. Ultimately, this reduces the vehicles' running costs."
Dr. Christoph Lauterwasser, Managing Director AZT Automotive GmbH
Road safety - the relevant crash tests
The Allianz Center for Technology does not only play an active role in improving repairability.
It is also dedicated to increasing road safety, for example, by providing Allianz customers with pertinent information. Do you know, for example, how to secure you dog properly? Or what could happen if you rest your feet on the dashboard? In such contexts, demonstration crashes are conducted in order to highlight the problems and raise awareness amongst car-drivers.
In practice, these experiments are aimed at demonstrating the forces involved in an accident and the consequences. These instructive tests are performed and published with regard to issues such as securing cargo, travelling with dogs in the car, the proper use of seatbelts and airbags, as well as fan processions and cycling.
Protect yourself and any passengers entrusted to your care!
Repair costs constitute a large portion of claims costs in motor insurance. AZT investigates and supervises new developments in paint and bodywork repair with the aim of promoting professional and cost-effective repair solutions.
By repairing real-life vehicle damage, trained REFA experts (www.refa.de) analyze the repair times and material consumption according to established industry standards. Time studies are carried out both at the AZT and at independent external repair shops. The purpose of these tests is to determine the basis for calculating repair costs correctly.
The Allianz Center for Technology maintains a range of calculation systems and aids:
AZT paint calculation system to determine the cost of painting
AZT caravan and motor caravan calculation system
Calculation aid for panel beating, plastic repairs and spot repairs
These are available to users via the calculation software offered by many providers in the market. Among others, we cooperate with Audatex, Autovista International AG, DAT and CAB. In particular, the calculation systems are used by experts, repair shops, Allianz companies and other insurers.
In addition, interested parties also have the option of subscribing to the AZT "Technische Mitteilungen", which summarize the results from research work and the collaboration with automobile and paint manufacturers and is published in the form of a loose leaf collection (AZT Technische Mitteilungen).
In addition, a catalog of vehicle repair studies involving repair work which is calculated according to the time required (REFA) and then compared to the calculation based on the panel-beating formula provides assistance when selecting a professional and economical method of repair. These repair examples are also available as part of the subscription.
Apart from the integration of the AZT information in the Audatex calculation system, the data is also offered on the information platform Repair-Pedia.
The AZT paint calculation system
Since its introduction in 1977, the AZT paint calculation system has established itself as the leading, manufacturer-independent international standard for the calculation of paintwork, and is used in more than 35 countries all over the world - and this trend is growing.
The materials and methods currently used for repair paint jobs form the basis of the paint calculation system. New vehicle models are regularly added to the system, and values are updated frequently. New materials and methods are examined, and are taken into account in accordance with their market importance.
The users of this system receive:
all necessary information relating to processing time and expenditure, quickly and simply
calculation values for passenger vehicles, off-road vehicles and transport vehicles included in the system
the amount of time needed to complete the paint repair, in hours
the current paint costs for the repair, in the respective national currency
The AZT paint calculation system covers over 4,000 models. Annually, more than 10 million paint jobs are calculated worldwide with the aid of the system.
Driver assistance systems and automated driving
Driver assistance systems make a considerable contribution towards improving road safety. The accident research department at the Allianz Center for Technology (AZT) has been analyzing their potential through multiple research projects over the past decade (e.g. AKTIV, TRACE, euroFOT), and has made a significant contribution towards the inclusion of effective driver assistance systems in the calculation of insurance premiums in many countries (e.g. autonomous emergency braking, AEB). Claims submitted to Allianz relating to motor liability and bodily injury form the basis for the evaluation of this potential. Several claims databases allow the AZT to continuously carry out prospective and retroactive evaluations, from the most minor instances of physical loss or damage, up to the most serious bodily injuries, examining them in relation to driver assistance systems in terms of navigation, steering and stabilization.
Current topics and research projects on all aspects of driver assistance systems and automated driving:
- GDV study on automated driving
Since the early years of the new millennium, the Allianz Center for Technology has analyzed the repairability as well as safety aspects of electric and hybrid vehicles, subsumed under the term "high-voltage vehicles".
AZT is specifically involved in the following fields of research:
protection of expensive components (battery, power electronics, wiring etc.) in moderately serious accidents
crash management ⇔ lightweight construction
safety regulations (qualification, equipment)
working positions repair shop
potential additional costs: new working positions (e.g.creation of a voltage-free status, dismantling/shifting of components)
the statistical observation of the damage situation
specific features of the damage
damage caused by martens
In addition to crash tests and repair attempts with high-voltage vehicles, for example, experiments involving the effects of temperature on high-voltage batteries and comprehensive statistical investigations with regard to damage situations have also been conducted. Since the field of electromobility is seeing the emergence of new vehicle manufacturers who do not dispose of substantial experience, in particular, with regard to the insurance classification, AZT also offers cooperation initiatives of an advisory nature.
Electromobility was the guiding theme of a symposium organized on behalf of the Association of German Insurers (GDV) in 2009, as well as during the "Allianz Autotag" (annually press event) in 2012 and 2017.
Networks and IT security
In the course of digitalization, the global networking of systems and functions and the assessment of the risks this poses are increasingly coming to the fore - and this applies to the automotive industry as well. The new forms of technology in vehicles do not have to only function smoothly without any technical glitches, but they also have to be evaluated in terms of IT security. This gives rise to completely new challenges such as the forensic evidence of risks which arise through attacks and manipulation and may make the interfaces to the outside world insecure.
In this context, AZT is currently taking an in-depth look at two questions in particular:
1. Analysis and risk assessment of newly networked functions, such as virtual vehicle keys.
AZT has analyzed the potential ecosystem "Virtual Vehicle Keys", addressed the existing and new potential risks and attack vectors, and formulated the requirements with regards to virtual vehicle keys.
The requirements are to serve as guidelines for the handling of networked and security-critical functions in a loss event from the insurer's perspective, and, at the same time, to assist the automotive manufacturers with the technical design of the system and its protection against misuse.
2. IT security in networked vehicles
Attacks on the wiring system of a networked vehicle may jeopardize the comfort, property and safety of the passengers, as well as threaten economic interests.
Within the scope of a long-term, interdisciplinary cooperation project with the private research institution InS³ headed by Prof. Dr. Rudolf G. Hackenberg, professor at Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule (OTH) in Regensburg, these digital risks are examined, and threats as well as attack methods analyzed in terms of IT security.
According to the statistics of the World Health Organization (WHO), every year more than 1.2 million people across the world die in road traffic accidents, and up to 50 million are injured. In Germany, over 3,000 people lose their lives as a result of road-traffic accidents. The risk is high particularly for unprotected road users - pedestrians and cyclists.
Long-term road-safety research and road-safety work have always been indispensable in ensuring safe mobility on our streets and protecting people from injury. For almost 50 years now, AZT has been supporting this development via its own studies, committee work and safety campaigns. In this conjunction, the focus is, at all times, on the interaction in the human-vehicle-environment system, and safety is understood as the outcome resulting from safe people, safe vehicles and a safe environment.
To this end, accident research at AZT analyzes, in detail, vehicle damage using representative random checks from insured claims by addressing manifold questions. For example, this allows information to be gleaned on the course of events leading to an accident or the severity of injuries, and research may be conducted with regard to the frequencies of certain types of accidents or prevention potential. The investigations range from minor P&C damage to accidents resulting in extremely severe bodily injuries involving cars, trucks, motorcycles or other classes of vehicle. With the aid of collision tests, analytical case studies on accidents, survey studies and statistical evaluations, the safety research conducted at AZT sheds light on biomechanical problems, the interaction between humans and machines as well as on the conduct of road users. The focus here lies on groups who are especially at risk, such as senior citizens and young drivers, and on the risk behavior displayed by car drivers as in the case of distractions for example.
Topics are, amongst others:
large losses involving cars
accidents involving agricultural vehicles
Die Sicherheitsforschung im AZT beleuchtet in Aufprallversuchen, unfallanalytischen Fallarbeiten, Befragungsstudien und statistischen Auswertungen Probleme der Biomechanik, der Mensch-Maschine-Interaktion und des Verhaltens der Verkehrsteilnehmer. Im Fokus stehen hier besonders gefährdete Gruppen wie Senioren oder junge Fahrer und das Risikoverhalten der Autofahrer wie etwa die Ablenkung.
Topics are, amongst others:
bicycle helmet campaign (Video: Willi Weitzel hat's geschnallt - Fahrradfahren: Immer mit Helm!)
proper child safety in cars (Video: Willi Weitzel hat's geschnallt - Kindersitze)
the blind spot with trucks (Video: Schon gewusst? - Der tote Winkel)
"Schon Gewusst? - Der tote Winkel"
The insights gained from the AZT research on road safety are not only incorporated in measures and recommendations for damage prevention, but also serve the product development at Allianz companies in the interests of the customers. Auto liability, accident or fleet insurances may be oriented to the needs and risks of the road users. Via cross-company and international working groups and projects, results also contribute towards improved norms and standards as well as official positions and requirements put forward by safety committees and associations. Amongst others, the AZT experts also collaborate on the drafting of resolutions for adoption by the German Road Safety Council (DVR).
Accident analysis at AZT
The Allianz Center for Technology supports the accident analysis, the technical non-sales staff and the mobile claims service of Allianz with accident-analysis issues with regard to occupant safety, plausibility and compatibility, as well as in respect of especially complex loss events. These loss events are reconstructed and simulated or even "retraced" in experiments using state-of-the-art software.
Moreover, studies on current issues in accident analysis, accident reconstruction and occupant safety are published on a regular basis. The insights gained from these studies are then passed on both internally and externally during workshops, training seminars for experts, congresses and conferences.
These investigations cover the following areas:
occupant safety with focus on cervical spinal distortion
accidents with unprotected road users
general liability claims
minor collisions involving cars
cargo securing (Video)
Training at AZT: further training for Allianz experts and international transfer of know-how
The dynamic change in the area of vehicle technology has considerable impact on auto insurance, risk assessment and the repairs industry. At the same time, digitalization has given rise to new processes in the fields of claims management and drafting of expert opinions. These trends entail particular challenges for experts, and constant further training and education constitute key performance factors in daily practice.
Allianz possesses one of the largest expert organizations in the insurance sector, and one of AZT's main tasks is to provide them with timely and professional further training and education. Approximately 400 Allianz experts, alongside other target groups, are regularly trained at AZT through the use of a comprehensive further training program which focuses equally on the conventional areas of vehicle repair as well as on the current trends in the automotive sector. This ensures a direct transfer of know-how from AZT's research and other up-to-date sources into the daily claims processing for our customers.
The diverse range of topics includes, amongst others, the following general areas:
Body and paintwork repairs
Requirements and processes in claims assessment and calculation
Modern vehicle technology, e.g. high voltage vehicles, assistance systems and IT security
Additional seminars also regularly take place covering special topics, such as:
Claims assessment and maintenance of mobile homes, HGVs and buses
Additional topics, e.g. communication
"With the close cooperation between the Allianz Center for Technology and the motoring experts, we want to ensure competent technical processing of the damage, which meets the high requirements of modern vehicle technology."
Rüdiger Hackhausen, Head of the Claims Department at Allianz Versicherungs-AG / Managing Director AZT Automotive GmbH
The AZT is also part of international networks and promotes the exchange of knowledge between Allianz's international automotive and claims experts. Within this framework, the AZT initiates and organizes annual events such as "Train the Trainer" or the "AZT Summit", at which internationally relevant innovations and developments are discussed and best practice approaches in the area of claims management are presented.