Ford Develops Portable Wind-Tunnel Testing

Ford has recently created a mobile platform for wind-tunnel testing for new automobiles created by the company.
The company has received a patent for the world’s first mobile aeroacoustic wind tunnel in order to use when company officials are traveling and need to test their cars for wind resistance. The structure of the “tunnels” are basically split between two 53-foot shipping containers that can be easily transported from city to city. Ford’s wind noise core supervisor Bill Gulker stated that the “new mobile wind tunnel saves [Ford’s] engineers time and increases productivity” over the long term. The new tunnels cut costs because they cost far less than the $50 million aerodynamics labs that currently serve as the industry standard in wind tunnel testing. Ford is putting the new wind tunnels to test at its Flat Rock, Michigan Assembly Plant. The company will be testing Lincoln vehicles for wind resistance standards, particularly the Lincoln Continental model sedan that the company produces on a large scale at the Flat Rock Assembly plant. The new wind tunnels highlight the increasing use of new technology to cut costs when facing regulation standards by automakers in the United States. The difficulty in developing cheaper means to test cars is that the testing methods must produce accurate results or else the company will be fined hefty amounts by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Ford must keep the potential negative effects of wind tunnel testing in mind as they move forward with using the new technology. The following is a video detailing the new development for Ford’s regulation experts:

 

Thomas Barnett

4 comments to Ford Develops Portable Wind-Tunnel Testing

  • platte16

    A portable air tunnel is a unique concept. This shows how regulations have incentivized new technology not only in or on the physical car, but also to improve ease of testing. A simpler process for testing would definitely decrease time and labor costs along with accelerate the time from drawing board to production.

  • adamsm19

    This article reminded me a little bit of the documentary we watched in class the other days and the virtual reality technology used to test cars to see how the will stand up without actually crashing them. Did you come across any programs that would allow Ford to perform wind tunnel tests in a similar manner?

  • I’m really curious to know how they create the wind in a manner that is useful for testing. Big wind tunnels are big in part to insure that cars face a uniform airflow, unaffected by the changes that take place alongside walls. They include a very sensitive scale to help measure wind resistance at the vehicle level. Their size also makes them quiet enough to test acoustics. So I’m curious about what sort of things they can test for in such as limited wind tunnel, and whether they’ve found some tricks to let them extrapolate from constrained tests along a surface that is not isolated to full-vehicle performance.

  • cranea18

    I think that this is a huge step for Ford, especially with the development of Lincoln as a big name luxury vehicle. They are able to test aerodynamics and driving speed at a much lower cost with these wind tunnels. Although they have to assure that these results are accurate, this could be helpful for the company in making Lincoln a better driving experience for the consumers of luxury vehicles in the industry.

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