When people hear the term “vehicle testing” images of high speed turns on racetracks come to mind. The reality is much sweatier and maybe a bit stinkier too.
Most passenger cars sold today are capable of speeds in excess of 120 MPH, can hold a turn up to about 0.8g on a skidpad and some can sprint to 60 MPH in as little as 2.5 seconds. Almost none ever actually do these things. What most cars do need to handle on a regular basis is a sweaty butt. Maybe lots of sweaty butts. To ensure that your car doesn’t begin to take on the look and fragrance of said moist bottoms, Ford employs a dummy butt to test its fabrics and cushion materials.
Originally designed for use in testing the dry wear and tear of its seats, Ford of Europe’s test engineers have now added a wet “Robutt” to simulate what happens when owners get in their Ford cars when they have been perspiring heavily. Ford’s new sweat test simulates a decade’s worth of dank nether regions in just three days of testing. The “Robutt” is pre-moistened and then squished, bounced and twisted into the seat 7,500 times. Based on the butt dimensions of that big sweaty guy at your local gym, the robotic bottom is also heated to body temperature, and soaked with a pint of Ford’s proprietary butt sweat simulation juice. We’re kidding. They use water. Ford Europe’s Development engineer, Florian Rohwer, says, “Cars are a part of our everyday lives, and so is exercise. The ‘Robutt’ is a great way to check our seats will look good for years to come.”
Ford developed the Robutt for testing on its top-selling European-market Focus. The testing was so valuable, the company now plans to add the test to all its vehicles.