The Proving Grounds Research Facility

For More Information

Lance Bullard
Roadside Safety and Physical Security Division
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
The Texas A&M University System
3135 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-3135
Ph. (979) 845-6153
l-bullard@tti.tamu.edu

More than…

45 years of safety research.
2,000 full-scale crash tests.
40 tons of truck brought to a screeching halt.

Research performed at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Proving Ground has saved lives for more than 45 years.

The Proving Grounds Research Facility, a 2,000-acre complex, enables researchers to conduct experiments and testing with the ultimate goal of improving transportation safety. This facility is one of only two university-based centers of its kind in the United States where researchers perform product testing for clients from across the country, as well as test new TTI-developed roadside safety devices. An expanse of paved runways is ideally suited to perform full-scale testing of safety designs. Roadside devices, crash cushions, and barrier systems undergo the substantial testing that is required before field installations. The size of the facility provides realistic conditions for crash testing and friction pavement testing. Crash tests are conducted using a wide spectrum of vehicles, from subcompacts and three-quarter-ton truck to 80,000-pound tractor-trailor rigs.

Other proving ground facilities include:

  • a hydroplaning trough for studying the phenomenon of vehicle hydroplaning,
  • a test track of 3.5 miles that permits simulation of freeway traffic conditions at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour, and
  • special pads designed for conducting tire skid tests on road surfaces of various textures.

Equipment

Central and Western Field Test Center

indoor test facility, trucks and researcher inspecting a vehicle's wheelThe Central and Western Field Test Center is one of two national reference centers for friction trailer calibrations in accordance with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Engineers use carefully monitored reference pavements and an ASTM friction trailer to calibrate friction measurement systems for 25 state departments of transportation.

Outdoor Pendulum

tall outdoor pendulum apparatus This equipment simulates low-speed (25 miles per hour) vehicle impacts on roadside appurtenances. The pendulum uses a 1,808-pound falling weight to induce known kinetic energy into a test article for evaluation of strength, energy absorption, and failure characteristics.

Parametric Measurement Facility

researchers working on car raised 6 feetThis facility measures a vehicle’s center of gravity and mass moments of inertia to determine its stability and performance in driving maneuvers. The test vehicle is attached to a support structure that sits atop a hydraulic spherical bearing. The vehicle is then tilted around the bearing to measure center of gravity and oscillated around the bearing to measure mass moments of inertia.

The Bogie Test Vehicle

four-wheeled vehicle with red steel structureThis vehicle is used to simulate a 1,808-pound passenger car in collision testing. Testing with this reusable vehicle, rather than a late-model car, substantially reduces the costs of crash testing narrow objects, such as sign supports and lighting poles.