The first thing you notice about a car is how it looks. That’s a lot of what draws you into buying one car over another, but when it comes time to take it for a drive, seat comfort takes priority. Ford is making sure its seats are comfortable with a specially built robot butt.
And lest you think the engineers that crunch all the numbers to determine if a seat is comfy and durable are boring, know they called this thing a Robutt. Cue Beavis and Butthead giggling.
It’s a funny name for a piece of tech, but it plays an important part in ensuring you don’t mind sitting in your car for hours during a long road trip. Even if you only have a short daily commute, uncomfortable seats take their toll and make it hard to like your car. They also make it hard to recommend it to other people or to consider buying another car from the same company.
Ford Europe designed a special robotic test rig to simulate the wear and tear our seats go through over the course of many years. Robutt sits on the seat 25,000 in three weeks, which simulates the typical use a car gets in ten years.
Not only will that show how well the seats hold up to someone sliding in and out of them over all that time, it also helps them see specific wear patterns since it mimics exactly how a human takes a seat. When it comes to comfort, Ford uses pressure-sensitive overlays that show where the pressure points are when you sit.
It’s like those kiosks in shoe stores that measure where the pressure points are on your feet or mattress stores with gadgets that can see exactly where the pressure points are when you get comfy in bed. Ford is doing the same thing with the seats in its cars, specifically with the Ford Fiesta.
The sad part about this video is that the Ford Fiesta is going away in the U.S starting with the 2018 model year. It’s our own fault because we, the driving public, didn’t buy enough of them to make it worthwhile for Ford.
If you want to see the fruits of Robutt’s labor, then you’ll have to plan that European vacation.