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Video: Ford’s 'robotic' drivers

2013-06-21 10:17

NO NEED FOR PESKY BATHROOM BREAKS: Ford's robot drivers allows more-efficient vehicle testing (inset- Transit van) without human drivers succumbing to fatigue. Image: Ford

MICHIGAN, USA - They can accelerate, steer, avoid obstacles and endure more rigorous tests than humans… 'robot' drivers have become a reality.

Ford has designed a range of such cars to test its vehicles, the first automaker to do so.

Watch the video!

The robots use a series of cameras, sensors and GPS trackers to navigate. They are also able to carry out more-rigorous tests than humans and put Ford’s Transit vans through the equivalent of 10 years of wear and tear in a single session at its proving grounds in Michigan, USA.


Ford claims that its robots are ideal for the job because they are well suited for durability tests that would prove too taxing for human drivers.

A robotic module controls steering, acceleration and braking and follows a programmed course. If the vehicle strays, engineers can correct the route and restart the test.

The vehicles are repeatedly put through rigorous tests on Ford test circuits nicknamed Silver Creek, Power Hop Hill and Curb Your Enthusiasm.


The vehicles are driven over broken concrete, cobblestones, metal grates, gravel, mud pits and irregular speed bumps.

Ford’s manager of vehicle development, Dave Payne, said:  “Some of the tests we do on our commercial trucks for North America are so strenuous that we limit the exposure time for humans. 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 programmes by redeploying drivers to those areas, such as noise level and vehicle dynamics testing.”
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