Ford Motor Co. is taking wind-tunnel testing on the road, so that its engineers and the vehicles they test can spend less time traveling around the country.
The automaker says it has developed the world’s first mobile aeroacoustic wind tunnel, a patent-pending invention that it says will improve quality while also saving significant time and money by letting engineers test vehicles right at the plant where they’re built. It’s built inside two 53-foot (16-meter) shipping containers that can be set up and disassembled in hours.
“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,” Bill Gulker, Ford’s wind noise core supervisor, said in a statement. “And our new mobile wind tunnel saves our engineers time and increases productivity.”
The mobile wind tunnel costs a fraction of a $50 million full-size aerodynamics lab, though it doesn’t have nearly as much specialized instrumentation or equipment. It uses two 6-foot diameter fans to create a steady stream of wind up to 80 mph to help identify sources of unwanted noise in early production vehicles. It’s being put to use first at Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant, which is preparing to build the new Lincoln Continental sedan