Ford subjects seats to sweaty-butt test

Robotic seat tester was developed in 2018 to test seat longevity in Fiesta

Published: January 9, 2019, 9:30 PM
Updated: January 15, 2019, 10:04 PM

Ford driver entering car

Ford is adjusting the robot it uses to test the longevity of car seat bottoms to simulate the same type of abuse by butts going home from the gym or driving home after a run on the trails.

Ford robotic seat test

Affectionately called “Robutt,” and developed in 2018 for the new Fiesta, the robot has been used to inflict a reported ten years of use on a car seat (performing 7,500 actions over three days) — sliding in and out of the car, bouncing up and down (either dictated by road conditions or just for fun), and twisting (to reach across the cabin or to turn and check on kids in the rear seats).

“Cars are a part of our everyday lives, and at this time of year in particular, so is exercise,” said Florian Rohwer, development engineer, Body and Chassis Labs, Ford of Europe. “The ‘Robutt’ is a great way to check our seats will look good for years to come.”

Ford sweat-simulated seat

Now, Robutt is being reconfigured to simulate the same type of abuse by sweaty butts, as if the driver was driving home after a spinning class or a Sunday game of Ultimate or flag football. For the test, Robutt is heated to 36°C and soaked with 450 millilitres of water (it is estimated that a human body can produce as much as 1.4 litres of sweat during an hour of exercise).