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Print 7 comment(s) - last by grant3.. on Jun 18 at 1:07 PM

Ford wants more rigorous testing in a shorter amount of time for vehicle development

Step aside, humans, and welcome our robot overlords as Ford implements robotic test drivers for its Ford trucks.

Ford said it wants to use robots for rigorous test driving of its trucks instead of humans because humans are limited to a certain amount of time on dangerous test tracks, and Ford wants tougher trucks with more arduous testing.

Ford worked with Utah-based Autonomous Solutions Inc. to create a robotic control module that drives the trucks. The module is installed in the vehicle for acceleration, braking and steering, and is programmed to follow a certain course. But if it strays away, Ford has the ability to stop it and redirect the test drive.

The robotic test system also has other useful features, such as GPS, cameras (so engineers can track its position) and onboard sensors so the control module can stop the truck if a person or another car comes in its path. 


The robots are to be used on Ford's toughest test tracks, which feature cobblestones, broken concrete, metal grates, rough gravel, oversized speed bumps and mud pits. Ford trucks must pass such tests in order to be certified for customer use, but with human test drivers, testing on these dangerous grounds was limited to once a day to keep the people safe. 


“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 of vehicle development operations at Ford. “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.”

Payne further added that this is not a sign of Ford's movement into autonomous driving; only a better solution for the test track. 

Ford is currently using its new robotic system on the new full-size Transit van, which has a 2014 launch date.

Source: Ford



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i think this is a bad idea
By GulWestfale on 6/17/2013 10:19:33 AM , Rating: 1
yes, robots can work harder than their human slaves, but they don't provide the same feedback as a human. in a car, where tactile things such as how the suspension responds to a bump are important. so i hope that ford isn't thinking of eventually replacing all humans with robots, even if it is cheaper.
and they are only doing this for cost reasons; if a human is limited to a certain number of hours, then they could just hire another human, you know? but robots are cheaper in the long run, and their PR department is trying to spin this into a OMG we need tougher trucks for all the soccer mommies out there kinda thing. lawl.




RE: i think this is a bad idea
By KC7SWH on 6/17/2013 11:09:00 AM , Rating: 5
This isn't about feedback this is pure beat the crap out of the truck to see if anything breaks. With this they could run the truck around the track 24 hours a day.


RE: i think this is a bad idea
By amelia321 on 6/17/13, Rating: -1
RE: i think this is a bad idea
By Souka on 6/17/2013 3:44:05 PM , Rating: 3
They can still drive the trucks as before... if human input is required.

Just get most of the driving done by autonomous vehichles... and let a person drive now and then


RE: i think this is a bad idea
By Xplorer4x4 on 6/17/2013 4:30:04 PM , Rating: 2
You don't think a robot can measure the vibrations inside the cab to provide a rough idea of what the suspension feels like? A computer should be able to give them the ability to tune the suspension to a certain degree, and once that point is reached, they can use human feedback to fine tune it.


RE: i think this is a bad idea
By grant3 on 6/18/2013 1:07:06 PM , Rating: 2
You might want to actually read the article?

1. this testing is being done on commercial delivery vehicles, not "soccer mommy" vehicles
2. Ford isn't trying to "spin" anything, their explanation is the same as yours (except with better grammar.)

“... 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.”


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