Austin Blankenbeckler
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90 Years at the Milford Proving Ground

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GM celebrates 90 years at the Milford Proving Ground.

GM celebrates 90 years at the Milford Proving Ground. ©GM

This October, General Motors will celebrate the 90th birthday of its Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan. The Milford Proving Ground, established way back in 1924, has been a pioneering location in terms of vehicle safety—even when it put its own safety workers in danger.

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When safety testing began at the Milford Proving Ground, none of today’s technology was available. This meant that engineers often had a lot more at stake when ensuring a vehicle was road-ready. The video below demonstrates this point, and how the proving ground grew into what it is today. Check it out:

As you can see, testing safety has gotten much safer itself in the last 90 years. “The technology used today to research vehicles is far superior to the past, but the intention stays the same, put vehicles to the test in the name of safety,” said Jack Jensen, the GM engineering group manager for the dummy lab and a GM Technical Fellow.

He added, “We have more sophisticated dummies, computers to monitor crashes and new facilities to observe different types of potential hazards. All those things together give our engineers the ability to design a broad range of vehicles that safely get our customers where they need to go.”

The Milford Proving Ground has played host to several industry-firsts in safety testing, including the following:

  • Test Dummies: Yes, the at times horrifying test dummies (why don’t they have eyes!?) as we know them today are a product of the Milford Proving Ground. The Hybrid III dummies were designed in the early 80s and are now the industry standard for frontal crash testing.
crash test dummies | Milford Proving Ground

The stuff of nightmares

  • Rollover Test Facility: Milford was the first North American automaker to construct a rollover test facility. The facility opened eight years ago, in 2006.
  • Front Center Airbag: Just last year, GM became the first automaker to introduce this feature. It was added to all of the General’s full-size crossovers.
  • Belt Assurance System: The Belt Assurance System launches later this year on limited fleet vehicles. The system prevents the car from shifting out of park unless the driver is buckled up.
  • Child Restraint Seat Cushion Extension: While the patent is still pending, the child restraint seat cushion extension feature is a segment-first that is featured on the 2015 Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, allowing the jump seat headrest to be removed and instead inserted into the base, giving the child seat more room to rest on.

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