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Ray, Rosie and Roberto help next-gen Fords gain 5-star safety

Continuing the five-star rating performance of the previous-generation Ranger and Everest, the Next-Gen Ford Ranger and Everest have become Ford’s latest models to be awarded the five-star rating from ANCAP, and it’s thanks in part to Ray, Rosie and Roberto.

At Ford’s Proving Ground in Australia, Ray, Rosie and Roberto are integral members of Ford’s safety team, helping to develop the very latest in crash protection features and advanced driver assist systems that enable owners to drive with more confidence on the road.

Deployed to work on Next-Generation Ranger and Everest, they’re placed in harm’s way every single day, can work 24/7 if required, and only take short breaks to recharge. They don’t even need a lunch break.

This cutting-edge robotic trio are tasked with helping Ford test driver assist systems, like Enhanced Pre-Collision Assist with Enhanced Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane-Keeping System with road edge detection, Evasive Steer Assist, Reverse Brake Assist and more.

Each robot plays a crucial part in driver assist technology testing; Rosie is a Guided Soft Target (GST) vehicle, Ray is a Vulnerable Road User (VRU), and Roberto is an in-car driving robot. The robots ensure Next-Gen Ranger and Everest’s advanced driver assist Systems (ADAS) can handle a multitude of scenarios involving other road users, including vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.

“Having our three robots means we can now run the full gamut of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)1 scenarios, everything from nose-to-tail, offset, intersections, pedestrians, cyclists and more, in less time,” said Chet Yakupitiyage, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) attribute engineer. “We can also run more tests on any given day or night and with more real-world accuracy than ever before.”

Ford ADAS engineers used to rely on towed soft targets to test and tune systems like Enhanced Pre-Collision Assist1 with Enhanced Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) but driver error and even weather conditions could cause inconsistencies in tests and stretch out testing programmes. Ford’s three robots ensure a broader range of DAT tests can be replicated with centimetre precision at day or night.

Rosie and Ray robots have the ability to be precisely synchronised with a test vehicle, whether it’s being operated by a robot driver (Roberto) or a human, allowing for complex ADAS scenarios to be created.

When fitted with a full-sized soft target, Rosie (the GST robot) carries the same radar signature as a real car. This allows the ADAS to perform a variety of real-world tests to ensure systems like Enhanced Pre-Collision Assist1 with Enhanced Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)1 work correctly.

To ensure accurate coordination with Rosie and Ray, Ford’s in-car driving robot Roberto, equipped with sophisticated motion control technologies, is fitted to the test vehicle to control the steering, brakes, and accelerator. For additional safety on-site, an engineer remains in the driver’s seat to take control of the test vehicle if needed, while another engineer keeps a watchful eye on either Ray or Rosie and can take manual control if required.

Similarly, Ray, the Vulnerable Road User with Launch Pad, allows the team to test for a variety of pedestrian, children and cyclist scenarios at both day and night.

“With Ray we can simulate a child popping out from in front of a parked car, a pedestrian stepping out in front of a vehicle at night, or a cyclist riding across the road in front of the vehicle,” said Yakupitiyage.

“Our robots are the same as those used by my colleagues in other markets, which means we can share data, scenarios and perform tests in Australia to support teams in Europe and America to ensure our driver assist technologies meet Ford’s own stringent test criteria but also global NCAP protocols.

“Ray, Rosie and Roberto not only ensure more accurate and consistent results when testing these complex advanced driver assist systems1 but they also allow us to get much closer to real-world scenarios than ever before, and that should give buyers confidence that the advanced driver assist systems1 on Next-Gen Ranger and Everest have been designed to handle almost anything they’ll encounter on the road,” said Yakupitiyage.

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