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Friday July 20, 2012 6:16 pm

How Ford measures space in the new Ford Escape using ping pong balls

Posted by Andru Edwards - Categories: Design, Transportation

Ford Escape Ping Pong Balls

This week Ford unveiled its unique approach to measuring the interior space of its new Escape vehicle. The company didn't do away with the more conventional methods, as the ping pong measurement accompanied high-tech laser-scanned CAD renderings as well.

So, why ping pong balls? As vehicle interiors have become more modern, there are a lot more curves and swooping areas in a vehicle. Umbrella holders tucked away in the door, for example, make it more difficult to use the traditional tape measure. So the Vehicle Architecture team headed by Eric Jackson came up with the unorthodox approach.

Ford Escape ping pong

“It probably doesn’t seem like it, but pingpong balls are more accurate than using a tape measure to get the volume of odd-shaped spaces like a glove compartment,” said Jackson. “It was just a quirky idea that came out of a team brainstorm, but we then did some studies using pingpong balls and found capacities were more consistently measured.”

The areas of unique storage where this method helped include the hidden storage bin under the second row, driver and passenger umbrella holders, and the large center console. Ford has developed a cubic measurement for each ball, thereby accounting for the space between them, then uses that measurement to accurately compute the valume of space in all of these areas.

Oh, and in case you were wondering how many ping pong balls fit into the Ford Escape, the answer is 56,778.

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