Ford Now Tests Vehicles in World’s First Mobile Wind Tunnel
Ford will tell anyone willing to listen that it is no longer a mere automotive company, it is now a mobility company. Apparently, the basic concept of mobility as a mandate is now being extended to pretty much any and every piece of equipment used to test Ford’s vehicles.
Ford today detailed that it is testing its new vehicles, including the 2017 Fusion, in the world’s first mobile aeroacoustic wind tunnel. Ford’s patent-pending innovation is being utilized in testing at Flat Rock Assembly, and it joins other innovations that include a mobile road and climate simulator and a mountain-simulating dyno sled.
“This project was born from a desire to be the best when it comes to controlling and limiting the cabin noise customers are so sensitive to,” said Bill Gulker, Ford wind noise core supervisor. “And our new mobile wind tunnel saves our engineers time and increases productivity. It’s a fine example of the innovation mindset we’re trying to incorporate into everything we do.”
Watch: World’s First Mobile Aeroacoustic Wind Tunnel by Ford
The mobile wind tunnel is built within two 53-foot shipping containers fastened together, while a third container is used to gather data and supply power to the tunnel. The tunnel utilizes two 16-bladed, six-foot-diameter ducted fans that can generate wind speeds of up to 80 mph. And despite 500 combined horsepower from two electric motors, a bystander at a distance of six feet from the test area would hear a sound roughly approximate to that of a dial tone.
As a consequence of this innovation, Ford’s wind tunnel in Allen Park is now focusing solely on future vehicles, ostensibly helping cut down on development times and ensuring that every subsequent model has an even quieter cabin than the last.
“Now, we’re able to detect even the [subtlest] noises,” said Gulker. “We can identify an area in need of improvement, have key people gather, communicate quickly, and resolve the issue without delay.”
Ford says that it is capable of shipping the entire operation to any new location within North America within a number of hours. Ah, mobility.