Ford Motor Company surprised a lot of car shoppers and experts when it revealed that the company is currently using robots as vehicle drivers in some of its test-driving simulations instead using humans.
Based on the information provided by the US carmaker, the company was able to develop the industry’s first robotic test-driving program which is currently used in Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds located in Romeo, Michigan.
The carmaker also hinted that the robotic test-driving program will be used primarily to test Ford’s trucks and make sure that all of these will be able to meet the demands and provide the performance that the consumers are expecting from them. The robotic test-driving program as of the moment is being utilized to test the durability of the company’s all-new “Transit,” a full size van which is set to be launched in 2014.
When asked as to why the company has developed the technologies used on the robotic test-driving program, Dave Payne, Ford’s manager for vehicle development operations explained that US carmaker was pushed to use the robotic test-driving technologies since most of the tests conducted on Ford’s commercial trucks that are sold in North America many strenuous tests and using human drivers to conduct such is quite dangerous for all the personnel involved.
In addition to that, Payne has also revealed the robotic test-driving technologies also allows the company to complete the vehicle tests in accordance with its vehicle timelines since the engineers involved on the tests could easily repeat the processes included on the program and correct the vehicle’s defects until the desired results are obtained.
Ford has also revealed that the durability technology that the company uses as of the present employs a robotic control module which is installed on the test vehicle and is responsible of controlling some of its primary functions such as braking, acceleration and steering.
During the strenuous tests, the robotic control module is set to adhere to a preprogrammed course. As the vehicle moves to complete the course, its position is tracked using cameras in the so-called central control room. In the event, that the vehicle deviates from its track, the personnel involved could easily stop this, correct the vehicle’s course and then start the test all over again. Thus, Ford is able to obtain the needed performance outputs of the vehicles tested in shorter periods.