Virtual Buick on virtual test road
Virtual Buick tests world's toughest roads – Click above to watch video after the jump

Attack of the clones? Attack of the cloned roads is more apt, as the technical minds at Buick have developed a 3D road-scanning device to simulate some of the world's roughest roads. The scanner takes highly-detailed information about the road and translates it into 1s and 0s. The road is then modeled in a computer program that also features highly-detailed Buick vehicles. The "cars" are driven over the "roads" to see how the vehicles would stand up to the punishment in real life.

The scanner is able to accurately reproduce the road down to one millimeter. The Buicks are subjected to harsh conditions that will easily reveal squeaks, rattles and any other unwanted noises or equipment failures.

One of the preferred test routes is a Mexican road that leads to the Cerro del Cubilete shrine. The road is a rocky, winding stone path that tortures any vehicle driving on it. Buckle your seatbelt and make sure you don't have any loose fillings because we have video of the road, as well as the 3D scanner in action, after the jump.

[Source: General Motors]




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Buick Virtually Clones Toughest Roads
World's Most Challenging Terrain Tested

2010-10-13

Detroit – It's a technology that would captivate anyone who grew up on video games. What if you could create an exact digital replica of one of the world's most challenging roads and then drive virtual cars on it to see what happens?

The inventors at Buick found a way to do just that. Istanbul native Mine (Mee-NAY) Tasci is part of a team of engineers that created an innovative road scanner that makes a micro-detailed 3D digital representation of some of the toughest real-world road surfaces. Then she drives equally detailed digital Buick vehicles on the digital roads to test for quality and reliability.

"Just like a photo scanner, we can scan the surface of a road to create a three-dimensional digital representation," said Tasci. The scanner works with cameras and a laser to determine a 3D model of a road surface down to 1mm of fidelity.

An interesting application of this new technology involves a road leading to Mexico's Cerro del Cubilete shrine. It's a twisting, rocky path that winds its way up toward one of the most important religious shrines in Mexico. Each day, pilgrims from throughout Mexico are jostled and bumped as they traverse the stone road of Cubilete.

If ever there was a road that could bring out vehicle rattles, squeaks and vibrations, Cubilete is it. "Customers who drive on that road complain about steering rack noise," said Tasci. "That's why we wanted to recreate this road so that we can test and ensure that our vehicles are up to the challenge of driving on roads like this one."

Buick submits new vehicles to rigorous virtual testing well before a physical prototype ever sees the light of day. Testing on challenging roads like Cubilete allows Buick engineers to find and address issues early on in the development cycle. "In the end, it leads to higher-quality, quieter and more comfortable Buick cars and crossovers," said Tasci.

Tasci, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, came to the United States to study at the University of Nebraska, where she was recruited by Buick. "I'm often asked if I experienced culture shock in coming from Turkey to the United States," said Tasci. "The biggest shock was coming from a big city like Istanbul, with 12 million people, to Lincoln, Nebraska, with a population of a quarter million. Lincoln is a great city, but it was difficult to find a good cup of Turkish coffee."