Ford Now Tests Its Cars With A 'Sweaty Butt' Robot

Robot? More like Ro-BUTT. 

By definition, a robot is a machine that resembles a human and replicates “certain human movements and functions automatically.” In Ford’s engineering labs, those indicators now proudly translate to, “Sweaty human butt plopping down really hard 7,500 times in a row.”

As part of their comprehensive durability testing, Ford has recently announced the creation of the “Sweaty Robutt,” which ensures their seats can withstand the nasty wear and tear incurred by those post-gym car rides. Engineers fashioned this delightful derriere by heating a butt dummy with the dimensions of a “large man” to 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit and then soaking it in nearly a pint of water. It’s then attached to a Kuka robot, which Ford’s engineers say can simulate a decade’s worth of sweaty sittin’ in just three days and 7,500 robot-arm wiggles.

This damp-ass rigmarole was initially debuted for the 2018 Ford Fiesta model, but starting soon, all of Ford’s European-produced cars will be subjected to this swamp-ass stress test, according to a recent blog post from the company. Why introduce a sweat-related testing feature in the middle of winter?

Exercise? Good. Musty car seats? Gross.

“Cars are a part of our everyday lives, and at this time of year in particular, so is exercise,” said Ford development engineer Florian Rohwer in a recent statement. Essentially, Ford wants to make sure your new year’s resolution of getting ripped won’t simultaneously ruin your ride.

Although robo-sweat is a fun new addition, Ford has actually been using variations of durability robots to back up their iconic “Built to Last” tagline since 2013, relying on robotic drivers to log hundreds of continuous hours steering, braking and shifting gears for many of Ford’s commercial vehicles. In 2017, the company released a video of the original Robutt (~the dry version~), intended to mimic a decades worth of sitting - 25,000 sits, apparently - in just three weeks. Utilizing data from pressure mats, Ford durability engineers mapped out a car’s most common entry and exit trajectories. They then determined a human “perch pattern,” which lent a specifity to the Robutt’s sit-n-squirm movements.

So the next time you take a seat in a Ford vehicle, a wet-butt-ed robot arm lovingly systematically squirmed in that seat for you. 7,500 times. If that’s not mechanized love, I don’t know what is.


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