Ford Using Robots for Truck Testing [Video]
Already in use at the company’s Michigan Proving Grounds in Romeo, the new pilot program has been introduced for durability testing of Ford’s all-new full-size Transit van, which will hit the US market in 2014.
According to Ford, “the durability technology includes a robotic control module installed in the test vehicle that controls vehicle steering, acceleration and braking”. The whole process is tracked via cameras and GPS and the vehicle can be stopped if the robot leaves it pre-programmed it course. Also, onboard sensors are able to stop the car if a pedestrian or another vehicle enters its path.
“Some of the tests we do on our commercial trucks for North America are so strenuous that we limit the exposure time for human drivers,” says Dave Payne, manager, vehicle development operations. “The challenge is completing testing to meet vehicle development time lines while keeping our drivers comfortable. Robotic testing allows us to do both. We accelerate durability testing while simultaneously increasing the productivity of our other programs by redeploying drivers to those areas, such as noise level and vehicle dynamics testing.”
❐ Check out the Robot-driven Ford Transit photo gallery