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Testing for a Comfortable Seat

At Volvo Car Corp., the seats that go into the company’s vehicles are being tested day and night in a climatic chamber.

At Volvo Car Corp., the seats that go into the company’s vehicles are being tested day and night in a climatic chamber. Up and down. Back and forth. When drivers and passengers are in seats, they make all manner of gyrations. Seat durability checking is a must. At one point, this was done with a pneumatic seat tester. Which had limitations. For example, it is capable of just two-dimensional loads: horizontal or vertical. No rubbing or rotational motions. What’s more, as Eva Richardson, project manager at Volvo, recalls, “In our old seat tester, we could only test one seat in four weeks, and even then the results were not entirely satisfactory.” Now they are using a system that deploys a KR 210-2 robot from Kuka Robotics Corp. (www.kukarobotics.com) that is capable of testing the durability of six seats in a single 10-week period. The robot, fitted in a special three-layer protective suit that helps keep the device at a constant 20°C, has a special fixture on its wrist that resembles the form of a human body. The robot manipulates this on the seats. Force/torque sensors enable the robot to reproduce human movements. The measuring system used provides six measurement dimensions for forces and torques and ensures accuracy. Robot motions are regularly adjusted in relation to wear on the test object. Given the test regimen, a person would get tired of sitting. The robot doesn’t.