Every day it seems we are inching closer to the Jetson’s utopia of flying cars, floating cities and robot butlers. Technology is evolving to the point where robotics and computers control most aspects of travel and mobility. That requires a lot of testing and dependency on accurate measurements for what is on the road and what is flying up above.
Interface has been long been working with leading manufacturers and suppliers of all types of vehicles traveling on the ground, across the skies, and into space. As innovations are removing old boundaries, one thing that remains constant is the need for test and measurement programs.
In the urban mobility sector, we are seeing growth related to rigorous T&M projects for everything from autonomous vehicles to manned rockets, as well as unmanned aircrafts and drones. Interface is proud to be a solutions provider to the engineers and innovators of these growing applications and sectors.
Arizona, the home to Interface’s headquarters, is considered a hub for new technologies and inventions in urban mobility, including autonomous automobiles, alternative-fueled vehicles, rockets and unmanned vehicles. There are dozens of companies with testing and research facilities located throughout Arizona, with countless self-driving vehicles testing and mapping streets throughout the state. In fact, the Institute for Automated Mobility (IAM) in partnership with Intel, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona, and other public and private organizations, is collaborating on state-of-the-art research in Arizona. The goal of IAM is to advance all aspects of autonomous vehicles from science to safety to policy.
Nearly every company currently testing and innovating autonomous vehicle technology in Arizona is a customer of Interface. We are providing everything from instrumentation to torque transducers, along with a large range of our standard precision load cells for all types of testing projects. Our custom solutions team also has been working with leaders in these markets.
Being on the forefront as a solutions provider for this sector gives us visibility into many of the applications. What we have learned is demand is related to advancing urban mobility to solve for increasing congestion and diminishing inner-city air quality. The 2019 Urban Mobility Report published by The Texas A&M Transportation Institute with cooperation from INRIX notes:
“Connected vehicles “talking” to each other, such as traffic signals and other systems, and providing this information to decision‐makers will provide unprecedented data and insights to identify and fix mobility problems. Newer model vehicles sense and adjust to their surroundings, increasing the safety and efficient movement of goods and people. Other technologies, such as The Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printers, Blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will impact transportation systems of the future.”
As technology leads the way in urban mobility, the safety and performance of the vehicle are of utmost importance. There is no room for failure. The point is, the advancement of robotics, sensor technology, and computing power are becoming a driving factor behind a fully autonomous world in terms of how people and products move about the world.
Another area of increased T&M product demand at Interface is coming from the application of our force measurement products for moving objects in unmanned vehicles above ground. The advancement of drone technology for commercial purposes is seen through the adoption across diverse applications such as mapping, logistics, and surveillance. Interface load cell technologies have been used for flight and wing testing, load testing and a variety of force measurement projects. The drone market, for commercial applications, is expected to grow to more than $7B through 2022.
Interface is well known throughout key global industries as the premier manufacturer of the most accurate and reliable force measurement products on the market. For urban mobility, accuracy is critical to maintaining safe, pilot and driverless, vehicles and with the advancement of high-quality robotics.
Our load cells and torque transducers are used to test and measure key data points such as balance and weight distribution, thrust and lift, and to optimize movement on robotic arms and legs.
Here are a couple of application examples where Interface is providing critical components to advance innovation in urban mobility
Aerospace and Defense
The aerospace and defense industries are among the earliest adopters of urban mobility technology. The defense sector has utilized drones for surveillance, tactical advantage and battle since the advent of the technology. Aerospace manufacturers have also implemented autonomy into many of their commercial and defense planes. Interface has been a longtime partner of the aerospace and defense sector, working with some of the largest OEM’s across the U.S., as well as internationally. Some of the capabilities of our products in the aerospace and defense industry include thrust tests, wing and fuselage balance, weight distribution and fatigue testing, landing gear tests and parcel delivery weight testing for drones.
In the automotive industry, autonomous vehicles have been a critical focus for the past 10 years. The technology really exploded onto the scene over the past five years with key players like Google, Tesla, GM, and others making significant investments in the development and testing of autonomous vehicles. Interface products are used by most of the major automobile OEM’s throughout the world. In 2018, we released one of our most advanced products to date, the Axial TQ™, which includes capabilities uniquely designed for autonomous vehicle testing. Our services in automotive include bolt fastening, brake pedal force testing, engine torque testing and more.
Here are a couple of application notes and a case study that outlines how Interface products are used in this sector:
- Rocket Structural Testing
- Aircraft Wing Fatigue Testing
- Drone Parcel Delivery
- Launching into Orbit – NASA
As the urban mobility sector continues to grow, more advanced travel and delivery systems will require precise weight and torque testing to ensure unwavering reliability. The less control humans have over land and air vehicles, the more we need to trust the construction and design of these vehicles using proper force testing. Interface will continue to grow as a key player in the space as more OEM’s turn to our services to optimize the development of drones, autonomous vehicles, and other urban mobility innovations.
Contributor: Kim Williams, Interface Business Development Manager