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The number of injuries sustained in road traffic accidents has been falling for years. Besides improvements in the road infrastructure, it's mainly safety-related advances in automotive engineering that are to thank for this. And these often address features that are entirely hidden from the occupants’ sight. For example, it takes extremely robust reinforcing structures to absorb the enormous forces generated when a vehicle rolls over, even more so in the A-pillars of cabriolets. The Alfred Wegener Institute in northern Germany is currently developing a new generation of A-pillar reinforcement in collaboration with Volkswagen Osnabrück using a bionic lightweight design process known as ELISE. If you'd like to catch a rare glimpse of how the A-pillar inside your car might be destined to look in the future, then roll on over to HANNOVER MESSE 2018!

And hold onto your seats for the science behind it. The findings from trials to optimize the topology of structures have been used as the basis for the algorithmic design process. The subsequent parametric optimization ensures the structure adapts to accommodate loads. Finally, additive manufacturing processes are used to produce the complex structures, which neatly integrate multiple functions, reduce the weight and ensure maximum load-bearing capacity and safety. And that's it, as they say, in a nutshell!