- Register


Home>AUTOMATION>Robots>Ford recruits robot test drivers

Ford recruits robot test drivers

12 August 2021

Ford’s state-of-the-art Weather Factory is used to simulate a range of extreme conditions under one roof, enabling engineers to test vehicles in a way that is less impacted by travel limitations than real-world testing. The simulated conditions are so realistic that even the most experienced human test drivers may become tired or unwell, for example when undertaking altitude testing. Now, Ford has recruited two robot test drivers to help take the strain.

Located in Cologne, Germany, Ford’s Weather Factory helps ensure drivers can rely on vehicles that have endured conditions that are found in the Sahara Desert, in Siberia, and atop the tallest Alpine peaks.

For human drivers, wind tunnel testing – in particular at high altitude – requires numerous safety protocols, such as having oxygen bottles, medical equipment and a paramedic on-site, while driver health is constantly monitored.

Each robot test driver is able to operate at temperatures ranging from -40°C to +80°C as well as at extreme altitudes – and can be set up and programmed for different driving styles.

The robot test driver’s legs extend to the accelerator, brake and clutch pedals, with one arm positioned to change gear and the other used to start and stop the engine.

Ford continues to conduct real-world testing in European locations and across the world, including the Grossglockner mountain in Austria and the snowy Arjeplog region in Sweden.