The Future for Racing: Simulation Testing
In 2014, Ford debuted its newest technology for designing and testing both new family and NASCAR racing cars. The program lives in Ford’s North Carolina technical center. As pictured above, there is a prototype of the front seat of a car, known as a “buck,” that is “surrounded by a 26-foot wraparound screen and powered by 25 computers.” This buck is capable of rocking tilting and jolting a driver, just like an actual vehicle during the simulation. The aim of this simulator is for the engineers at Ford to “evaluate cars and technical changes without the expense of building and tweaking physical prototypes.”
For the NASCAR racing cars, actual NASCAR drivers are able to test out their newest car, in a 3D simulation, on any professional racing track included in Ford’s system. On average, within a “few-hour” session, a driver can visit up to as many as four different tracks. Dan Tiley, Ford’s performance vehicle dynamics simulation engineer, states that the measurements of the buck are exactly the same of whatever specific car is being tested and can be switched in and out within 45 minutes. The pieces of the prototypes are 3-D printed to measure the actual cars. For family vehicles, the testing drivers are able to drive along a 2-D simulation of actual roads and freeways. While the simulation itself is expensive, in proportion, this invaluable resource for Ford is saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in traveling fees to get to the actual testing facilities all over the world as well as expenses in building the actual cars in the testing phase. Could this be the future for all other car companies? To read more about this program, click the link below.