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Ford Robots Perform Test Drives Too Dangerous For Humans: Video

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In recent days, Ford has released a pair of videos showing both the 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost hybrid and F-150 EV prototype completing some pretty rough looking torture testing. Buried in that news was a rather interesting fact – the automaker tests its vehicles on roads that are so rough, it’s too dangerous for humans to be behind the wheel. And that’s where Ford robots come into play.

Those Ford robots actually come from a company called Autonomous Solutions, Inc., which is based out of Petersboro, Utah. Essentially, the equipment used consists of robotic hardware that drives the vehicle autonomously through testing environments that are deemed too hazardous for humans, such as overly harsh courses with huge potholes and obstacles large enough to cause an injury when the vehicle strikes them.

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This equipment doesn’t look like a traditional robot, per say, but is rather a collection of components that work in unison. That includes a linear actuator box and a ring gear clamped onto the back of the steering wheel, as well as four actuators – one that goes to the accelerator pedal, one to the shifter, and two to the brake pedal.

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ASI’s vehicle controller controls those actuators, and can adjust the vehicle’s speed, braking force, and transmission. The vehicle can either be controlled by a human nearby, or it can drive itself. And unlike a human driver, the equipment can hold up to some serious punishment. Amazingly enough, this technology isn’t terribly new, either – in fact, Ford has been using it since 2013.

Most recently, this involved driving the new hybrid F-150 over a continuous series of man-made potholed and grooved roads at the unique Silver Creek test course with robots behind the wheel, hundreds of times. Silver Creek includes a dozen distinct types of metal-edged chuckholes repeated for almost a quarter mile. And while we often dream of becoming test drivers, that’s one course we’d prefer not to try out.

We’ll have more on Ford’s high-tech testing efforts soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for the latest Ford F-Series news, Ford F-150 news, and continuous Ford news coverage.

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Written by Brett Foote

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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12 Comments

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  1. It may sound like overkill but fatigue injuries are a real thing for test drivers on these courses. It’s a hard job, often with very short rotations between drivers on the rough tracks. This is a huge improvement

  2. And no health insurance or workman’s comp insurance needed for those electronics! Although, it would cool to see one of those standard crash-test dummies buckled into the driver’s seat, and its hands on the steering wheel.

  3. So, Ford has add-on robots to test their vehicles. I expect these systems to become integrated into the vehicle itself (Ford has automatic electric steering integrated in their vehicles as the Active Park Assist for years). Then we may see their first totally autonomous vehicles soon. If these autonomous systems can pass these extreme test, they can qualify for real life driving. I hope I can ride in one in the near future.

  4. LMAO. Where I live, my driveway is probably as bad or worse than that, on a good day. I agree, I’d be ashamed to post that. OH WAIT, duh, that y eyes got bran in jury due 2 2s meany bunks 2 ye head. Lol. Too many tender asses who don’t know what REAL trucks and cars are and were.

  5. Well at least they are testing it out, I remember after 30 years of the previous entry, the new van style on the GMC’s came out in the mid nineties, I wondered if they did any front suspension testing on them? Major flaw and comebacks on them. Heck the older square bears buck board ride st least was reliable. At least the Fords large vehicles (trucks & vans) suspensions are structurally sound, even though they do have some recall issues on other items. If Ford doesn’t stay on Top in this market, it looks like big trouble not to far down the road.

  6. Well at least they are testing it out, I remember after 30 years of the previous entry, the new van style on the GMC’s came out in the mid nineties, I wondered if they did any front suspension testing on them at all? Major flaw and comebacks on them. Heck the older ‘square bears’ buck board ride at least was reliable. And at least the Fords large vehicles (trucks & vans) suspensions are structurally sound, even though they do have some recall issues on other items. If Ford doesn’t stay on Top in this Market, it looks like big trouble not to far down the road. Stay Tough Blue Oval !!!

  7. Most new fords use brake, gear selector and gas pedal by wire. Why all the mechanical gear when it’s all electronic.

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