In this paper two innovative concepts for adjustable energy absorbing elements are presented. These absorbers can serve as an essential element in a smart crash management system e.g. for automotive applications. The adaptability is based on the basic idea of adjusting the stiffness of the absorber in relation to the actual load level in a crash event. Therefore the whole length of the absorber element can be used for energy dissipation. The adjustable absorbers are made from fiber reinforced plastics and shape memory alloy wires as actuating elements. Two possibilities for the basic design of the absorber elements are shown, the performance of the actuating SMA elements is characterized in detail and the switching behavior of the whole elements, between a stiff “on” state and a flexible “off” state, is measured.

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