Robot Test Drivers? Meet Ford’s Mechanical New Helpers

Shelby and Miles are helping Ford test out its vehicles at the automaker’s state-of-the-art Weather Factory in Germany. No, you aren’t imagining things. Ford is using robots to test its vehicles.

Robot Driver
Is this Shelby or Miles? We can’t tell © Credit to Ford

Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, Ford goes and announces it’s using robots to test out vehicles at its hella impressive Weather Factory.

This factory is used to put Ford vehicles through their paces, simulating various conditions under one roof instead of having to travel thousands of miles to experience the real deal. Of course, exposing one’s self to these conditions over extended periods of time can make living drivers feel tired or unwell.

Especially if that person is undertaking vigorous altitude testing. To combat this, Ford has sought the help of some handy robots by the name of Shelby and Miles to take the brunt of the work.

“These two new drivers are fantastic additions to the team, as they can take on the challenging endurance tests at high altitudes and in hot temperatures. Once the robot is in the driver’s seat, we can run tests through the night without ever having to worry that the driver will need a sandwich or a bathroom break.”
— Frank Seelig, supervisor, Wind Tunnel Testing at Ford

Ford’s Weather Factory, located in Cologne, Germany, can simulate everything from the heat of the Sahara to the briskness of the tallest Alpine peaks.

The automaker does run wind tunnel testing at this site, which is obviously dangerous to any human test subjects. You need to have everything from oxygen bottles to an on-site paramedic if you were to try this.

However, using robots voids the need for these things completely. 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.

Take a look for yourself:

Luckily for Ford, these robots weren’t made by Skynet. If technology like this doesn’t freak you out too much, why not check out Xiaomi’s CyberDog next. It’s the pet of the future, after all. Give us your thoughts on Miles and Shelby in the comments below.

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