Ford Motor Company has a 1.2-mile test road at its Lommel, Belgium test facility that’s guaranteed to make any driver cringe. Packed into just 6,300 or so feet are 100 of the worst driving surfaces that the world has to offer.
Ford’s utterly sadistic test road is meant to aid engineers in their task of ensuring maximum chassis robustness and coping ability. To create it, Ford travelled to 25 different countries around the world, amassing surveys of some of the roughest roads in each locale, based on what inhabitants have cited as the worst driving surfaces in each region. More than 100 different surface hazards were then accurately recreated along a 1.2-mile long stretch.
“From a rutted traffic junction in China to a bumpy German side-street, this road is a rogues’ gallery of the most bruising surfaces that our customers might encounter,” said Ford Lommel Proving Grounds Durability Technical Specialist Eric-Jan Scharlee. “By incorporating these real-world challenges into our test facilities we can develop future vehicles to better cope with challenging conditions.”
At the proving grounds, Ford engineers drive vehicles through pothole-ridden sections of pavement at up to 46 mph, using devices similar to those used by seismologists to observe the impact on the vehicle’s suspension and occupants. Granite blocks, cobblestones, and torturous speed bumps are all among the breadth of hazards replicated and tested by Ford.