The journey to full series maturity is a long and winding road for any new car. Although the latest computer technology can be used to simulate many testing processes and shorten the development time, prototype cars often drive long distances in testing before they can be finalised for production. One of the world’s largest and most high-tech testing sites is operated by Automotive Testing Papenburg GmbH (ATP) in Niedersachsen. On this 780-hectare site, major car manufacturers and suppliers can put their latest developments to the test on 15 different tracks: In addition to maximum speed and braking circuits, cars can be put to the test on hills with gradients of up to 18% or on deliberately simulated poor road surfaces.
Skid pads and wet road surfaces give manufacturers an opportunity to fine-tune their dynamic driving systems, while acoustic tracks are used to check internal and external noise levels against the required quality standards. The site offers testing facilities for all day-to-day driving situations that a car is expected to cope with. At 12.4 km in length, the oval track is the longest highspeed circuit in Europe.
Tests take place continuously at Papenburg, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Each week, the site hosts an average of 30 to 40 test teams who want to put their cars to the test on the tracks. To keep everything running smoothly – and safely – the control centre monitors and coordinates the traffic around the clock. Strict confidentiality regulations are in place on the site, and photography is forbidden. The security team ensures that all rules are complied with. If necessary, the control centre staff manage fire brigade and rescue attendances too. Complete focus and a healthy seated posture – even when remaining in the same chair for many hours at a time – are essential to the control centre role, so last year, ATP kitted out its control centre with Svenstol® 24h chairs. These chairs permit an individually adjustable, relaxed seating position and promote circulation for maximum alertness.
The ATP facilities are not exclusively used for new car testing: Drivers wishing to improve their skills can also use the test tracks to participate in driver training and seminars. Driver safety training provided on site is delivered in accordance with the regulations of the German Road Safety Council (DVR). This means that companies may be able to claim back part of the costs of training their employees from the relevant professional association. To ensure that training participants are kept safe on the track, the control centre staff monitor their actions from their Svenstol® 24h chairs.