Hardly a day goes by on which Ina Rathje does not ride the sled with the dummies. Almost 30 years ago, the now 47-year-old started an apprenticeship in industrial mechanics at Volkswagen in Wolfsburg. Soon she will celebrate 20 years in Technical Development, where she has been sled testing since 2011. There she plans the order of the crash tests and the exact timeframe for setting up the sled. Bit by bit she then pieces the test carriage together on the sled: assembling and securing the body shell, installing the seats, seat belt tensioners and instrument panels, mounting the airbags, dressing the dummies, lifting them into the test carriage with the crane and strapping them in.
While the crash test is underway, Ina Rathje has already turned her attention to the next sled test. When it’s all over, she dismantles the setup. The chief attraction of the sled test? Nothings breaks and nothing is destroyed, because the sled has a “long nose” at the front. This is a chock that disappears in a small channel in the wall, braking the sled to a halt. So it’s not a single-use sled, but one that Rathje and her team can easily reuse for the next crash test.