We all have those days that make us wish we had a robot to perform some of our tasks, especially the really difficult ones.
It turns out that engineers at Ford have fulfilled that wish for its test drivers.
With the help of Autonomous Solutions Inc., Ford has employed the first robotic test driving program in the automotive industry at its Michigan Proving Grounds in Romeo Michigan to test the all-new full-size Ford Transit van set to launch in 2014.
That’s right – a robotic control module installed in the vehicle is preprogrammed to accelerate, brake and steer around a course while engineers track it from a central control room.
No worries – onboard sensors stop for obstacles in its path and engineers also have the ability to stop, correct and restart the vehicle.
Built Ford Tough trucks must pass testing on broken concrete, cobblestones, metal grates, mud pits, oversized speed bumps and rough gravel before they can be certified for customer use.
Speed and frequency of testing, however, has been restricted by the fact that a few hundred yards of such courses can be equivalent to up to ten years of daily driving abuse – certainly not safe for human test drivers.
Robots allow Ford to test drive its vehicles all day on even more challenging courses to ensure its trucks are Built Ford Tough.
Meanwhile, human test drivers can focus on other areas like noise level and dynamics.
Paul Obaugh Ford of Staunton Virginia is excited to see just how tough these robots can make Ford trucks.