Translogic 185: Ford Autonomous Testing and Virtual Manufacturing

High Tech Solutions To Reduce Employee Wear And Tear

We've all heard the tagline "built Ford tough," but the automaker is now employing high-tech solutions to ensure that employees don't have to tough-out fatiguing work while testing and manufacturing Ford cars and trucks. Translogic heads to the metro-Detroit area to see how Ford is using autonomous and VR tech to promote healthier work environments.

Our first stop is Ford's Proving Grounds in Romeo, MI, where trucks are remotely driven across trying terrain.

"The previous process where the human drivers drove the vehicle... we would typically [limit] them to about four hours, just because of the content of the procedure," said Ford durability technical specialist Jeff Bledsoe. "With the robot, you can obviously run 24/7."

Next on our tour is Ford's campus in Dearborn, MI, where Marty Smets and a team of engineers are pioneering virtual manufacturing processes.

"Manufacturing, of course, is assembling our vehicles," explained Smets. "Virtual manufacturing is doing it before actual, real vehicles exist."

Ford does this with an optical motion capture system that allow engineers to test building processes in a virtual environment, and refine them before any parts hit the assembly line. But, does all this tech mean replacing hard-working humans on the job? Ford says no.

"It sort of just transitions the work from one group of people to another," said Bledsoe.


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