The Ford team has hired new drivers. Unlike the other employees, these two new drivers are robots, and they are trained to replace human drivers during the durability test that occurs in extreme weather conditions. They are named Shelby and Miles by the Ford team lovingly.

According to the Ford team, their state-of-the-art Weather Factory in Germany has never been busier. The Ford team used to simulate a range of extreme conditions under one roof and has allowed engineers to test vehicles in a way that is less influenced by travel limitations than real-world testing.

But the simulated conditions are so real that even the most skilled human test drivers might become exhausted and unwell after a point. Especially when performing high-altitude tests.

Ford has hired two test drivers named Shelby and Miles, nicknamed by the team to help take the strain to ease the situation and burden. Especially on altitude tests where the test should be replicated multiple times perfectly well.

With the introduction of two test driver robots, there comes a considerable amount of benefits.

With human drivers, numerous safety protocols such as oxygen bottles, medical equipment, paramedics on-site, etc., are required for wind tunnel testing at high simulated altitudes. And also, the driver’s health should be monitored constantly.

But with the robots Shelby and Miles, Ford can conduct test drives as long as possible, without the fear of any injury. 

Moreover, these robot drivers can operate at temperatures ranging from -40°C to +80°C as well as at high altitudes. The robots can also be set up and programmed for different driving styles. The robot’s legs are extended to the accelerator to press the brakes and clutch the pedals. And have two arms, one arm positioned to change gear and the other arm to start and stop the engine. 

This test is done to ensure that the drivers can entirely rely on Ford’s vehicles that have endured extremely high weather conditions found in the Sahara Desert, in Siberia, and extremely low weather conditions at the tallest Alpine peaks. The Ford team also conducts real-world testing in European locations and places worldwide, including the snowy Arjeplog region in Sweden and the Grossglockner mountain in Austria.

Frank Seeling, Supervisor, Wind Tunnel Testing, Ford of Europe, has also remarked about the robots.

He said that “These two new drivers are phenomenal additions to the team, as they can take on challenging tolerance tests at high altitudes and in scorching temperatures. Once set up for testing, the Robots can run overnight and perform the tests without any breaks.”