Always looking for new ways to make its vehicles more appealing to customers, Ford is the first automaker in North America to use a Robotized Unit for Tactility and Haptics (RUTH) machine to help it develop more appealing and more comfortable vehicle interiors.
RUTH offers the ability to measure the human sense of touch and understanding of quality, quantifying vehicle characteristics like softness, hardness, roughness, comfort and temperature. The robot is able to do this by using its giant arm, composed of six joints, to do everything a human would do while sitting inside the vehicle: poke the trims, push the buttons, turn the knobs, etc. This information gives Ford engineers the ability to tailor every vehicle interior to what a customer group desires, and the ability to consistently reproduce excellence across its vehicle line.
“Thanks to the data provided by RUTH, we can be sure the customer who buys a car like Fusion will experience the same type of quality they might feel if they were to buy a high-end luxury car,” said Eileen Franko, Ford craftsmanship supervisor. “I might be biased, but RUTH isn’t. We know the steering wheel and the armrest softness in Fusion are the best in the world.”
In the past, Ford was designing its vehicle interiors based on information from worldwide studies, in which customers tested various parts and documented their preferences. Although the RUTH robot won’t change this process, it will be involved in production from beginning to end to determine the feeling of quality in each vehicle. RUTH will measure interior samples, then customer test studies will be conducted and results tallied. RUTH will then supply the necessary data to move the most desirable option into mass production.
RUTH was originally introduced in Europe and is only recently gaining popularity in the United States. Currently, Ford has the only product development center in the country where a RUTH robot can be found. This proves that Ford is committed to making high-end products available to a larger market of customers.
“We are going further for our customers by more accurately and quickly assessing our products’ performance,” Franko says. “RUTH simulates the motor skills of a real person, allowing us to get precise measurements that explain what the customer wants. Engineers can take the findings and implement them. As a result, when customers sit in an affordable car like Fusion, they’ll feel instantly like they’re in a high-end ride.”
See the results for yourself with the arrival of the new 2013 Ford Fusion soon.