Mercedes-Benz has turned to ultra-fast X‑ray technology to produce still images of vehicle components during crash testing, announced the brand in an April 27 news release.

The X-ray technology at play enables Mercedes’ engineers to analyse the deformation processes of key structural components mid-crash, thus providing the information needed to further improve a vehicle’s overall safety.

For instance, high-speed photography may reveal the point at which an A-pillar begins to collapse in traditional crash testing, but the weakest, and thus the first, area to deform within a specific area of the unibody would be impossible to see in real time, during a crash test. But the automaker’s new X-ray technology will bare all, no matter how deep it’s buried inside the vehicle.

Mercedes says the images rendered by the X-ray tech are of “razor-sharp quality,” and can be targeted to observe very specific areas or thin ‘slices’ of a car’s structure.

As an additional bonus, the German brand says data from the X‑rays can be combined with computer-based simulation models to further study crash performance, and improve occupant safety in the event of a crash.

In order to obtain the very best ultra-fast X-ray equipment and utilize it to the max, Mercedes-Benz’ mother company Daimler AG partnered with Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institut, and EMI from Freiburg.