I had a really good time at Ford, seeing behind the sense at the research and development centre really impressed me with the level of technology used in the development process. The in car technology like Ford Sync and MyTouch Ford is impressive and I think the idea of using your smartphone as the core of the system is great idea and seems a better way than trying to build app in to the car system.
I have a couple of videos out soon showing in the in car tech.
Ford talked about how they use technology during the development stage of a product and using packages like Autodesk mean they can test car designs and colours without having to actualy create a physical model. They said that 90% of car photos in brochures are digital images and not actual physical cars. This means they can try the car in a variety light levels, localations and situations. This was all demonstrated in Fords EDPR room which is their presentation room with a 12,2888 pixel display.
I should have short video of this coming soon.
We were taken on a tour of the injection moulding facility where they demonstrated using compressed air in the moulding process reduces the weight of the plastic without reducing the strength, they actually demonstrated the process using chocolate (which smelt nicer than the plastic!). The air is pressured to 6000psi and can reduce the weight by a quarter
One really interesting demo was of Human Occupant Package Simulator, which is a way of working out how the driver and passengers sit and get in and out of the car. They using similar modelling system to the movie industries where they have a adjustable car rig and then a multiple camera setup that digitises the movements of the person. Having an adjustable system means than can switch the emulation from a small car to a big truck
The final lab demo was of the audio systems where they try and identify and control the noises in the car
The day was rounded off at the Fillmore in Detroit with a talk on the future of music and how stream and digital radio is changing the music industry. While no one specifically mentioned Spotify I did get the feeling that that is going to challenge the industry when it gets to the US
The final day was at the Ford test track where we got to experience a range of vehicles from the big V8 F150 Trucks to hybrids. Drag racing in an F150 was a very interesting experience as was the off road driving. Oh and being driven around on a wet track in a 5ltr Mustang was amazing. Again I should have some videos out soon
The strange experience was the autoparking system, the car finds the spot and then steers the car in to the spot and driving a car without touch the steering wheel is very odd.
All in all a great experience and great to see the tech in the cars as well as the design and manufacture process. Videos out soon and I am sure we will be talking about it on the podcast next week.