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autoviva2009-12-17 17:56:26

Touching robot helps Ford’s interior development

Touching robot helps Ford’s interior development

Ford has presented a robot created by the brand that has been helping for the last four years the work of designers of vehicle interiors. The robot’s name is RUTH and is used to test the feel and appearance of switches and surfaces of the Ford models.

Historically, designers have to rely on the direct feedback of customers to determine which visual and tactile interior environments pleased most people. But because human touch is very subjective and complex the results were unscientific, with unsatisfying results for some customers.

The Robotized Unit for Tactility and Haptics (RUTH) created by Ford brings a scientific, three-dimensional approach to touch and has already been used in the interior development of the new Focus and Fiesta, in Ford’s European Research Center in Aachen, Germany.

With higher perception resolution, RUTH measures for example friction, force, roughness, softness and temperature in the vehicle’s interior. These measurements are then compared and correlated to consumer feedback on what is perceived as having a high-quality appearance and feel.

According to Mark Spingler, Vehicle Interior Technologies engineer for Ford of Europe, this means that with RUTH “a characteristic like soft is no longer a subjective input. We can provide our suppliers with objective data so that the final product is so precise that we practically eliminate the need for numerous iterations to get what we want.”

For the measurements RUTH assumes the role of the driver and mimics complex human movements like pushing knobs or adjusting the air vents.

For example, RUTH offers valuable help in measuring the resistance of pushing buttons and turning knobs, determines softness, hardness and texture of surfaces like the dashboard, takes the temperature of components so materials match expectations and measures the spaces between pieces to minimize gaps.

RUTH has been in use for about four years and, besides the new Fiesta and Focus, has helped engineers to refine the interiors of Ford of Europe’s Mondeo, Galaxy, S-MAX and C-MAX.





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