Get to Know Robutt–Ford’s Cheeky “Car Seat Expert”
Here’s a question for you: What’s the average number of times a person gets in and out of a car within a span of ten years?
If you don’t know the answer, then perhaps you should meet Robutt, Ford’s car seat tester.
Robutt has only one job–and that’s to sit on car seats as many times as possible. This is to test how comfortable and durable Ford’s car seats really are–particularly the Ford Fiesta’s.
And while its name can be–no pun intended–the butt of jokes from time to time, Ford takes Robutt’s “cheeky” job very seriously.
It helps Ford understand how people use and move in and out of cars, and gives an idea of a car seat’s level of comfort and durability. This helps it create more effective car seats for everyone.
Durability Engineer for Ford Europe Svenja Froehlich adds: “From the first moment we get into a car, the seat creates an impression of comfort and quality.”
Robutt’s technology may not be eye-catching, but it’s still worth noting. It’s quite a long way from those days where they used cylinders to see how well a car seat performs over a long period of time.
Today, Robutt’s technology has moved a couple of notches higher, and now uses human behavior and movement to accurately determine how people sit and behave on car seats.
“Previously, we used pneumatic cylinders that simply moved up and down. With the ‘Robutt,’ we are now able to replicate very accurately how people really behave.”
The first step for Ford’s engineers is to measure and analyze the way people get in and out of cars. They do it by using pressure sensors and maps on the car seats. The second step is to use all the information they get ” for a very unique durability test.”
That’s where Robutt comes in. Roughly the size of a large man, his job is simple–sit in and out of car seats thousands of times, often simulating ten years of use in just about three weeks.
It’s fixed on an industrial robotic arm that “sits” it on a prototype chair repeatedly. According to Ford, “it’s created to move like a human bottom and perfectly simulate how drivers and passengers get in and out of their car seats.”
And there are only minimal breaks, mind you.
So to answer the question earlier: How many times does it take for an average person to get in and out of a car in ten years?
It’s actually 25,000 times. And Robutt can do that in less than a month.
Here’s a good video on how it works: