By Liz White, UTI editor
Dearborn, Michigan - Ford has a new device, the Robotised Unit for Tactility and Haptics (RUTH), which allows it to assess interiors such as that of the 2013 Fusion and be sure they are what customers want.
Ford says: "Quality can be difficult to express, yet when customers sit in a high-end car, they know by the feel of the trim and the touch of the buttons that the car is special." And while sense of touch and an intuitive understanding of quality are innately human characteristics,says Ford, RUTH's value lies in quantifying them.
RUTH allows engineers to quantify characteristics such as softness, roughness, temperature, hardness and comfort. And in turn this allows Ford to tailor vehicle interiors to exactly what a customer group wants, a Ford statement noted.
The RUTH robot is a giant arm with six joints, programmed to poke the trims, turn the knobs, push the buttons and interact with many of the vehicle's interior areas in the same way a person would.
Engineers in North America are the first in the world, for example, to use the robot to measure seat comfort, says Ford.
Eileen Franko, Ford craftsmanship supervisor, believes RUTH results in greater customer satisfaction.
"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," Franko says. "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," Franko said.