The Sense of Touch – By the Seat of your Pants?

Between my job, my hobbies and my travel schedule, I spend a lot of time behind the wheel of a wide range of cars and trucks.  If I went back to the beginning I must be getting close to a thousand, especially if you consider I have almost owned a hundred.  On this blog we spend a ton of time discussing the design of cars, both outside and inside, as appearance can help determine which car or truck a consumer purchases.  But there is nothing quite like spending a few miles with your seat firmly planted in the seat and behind the wheel.  In the end design is more than just about appearance.  While appearance may lead to a customer purchasing a particular car, the way a car feels and operates may lead to how happy a person is with their purchase after-the-fact.


Battenberg Robotics

Recently the topic of how a seat, a button and a knob feels came up while discussing interior design.   Many years ago I was working on an interior lighting program and was surprised to leave about all the acoustical work that was done in evaluating aural switch performance (try searching for THAT topic on google).  I was wondering how does a car company evaluates best-in-class performance these days when many of these evaluations are still subjective.  How do you develop a repeatable test and by what criteria do you determine what separates a good design from a bad one? And perhaps more importantly, the key question is “How do you measure the perceived value of your product?”

Are the 2014 Corvette Sting Ray seats World Class?

Are the 2014 Corvette Sting Ray seats World Class?

For interior components that are touched by the driver or passenger, that means haptic measurement.  In the area of tactile evaluation Battenberg Robotic is one of Europe’s leaders with more than 30 years of experience.  This has made Battenberg a leader in the field and a center of competence. They offer a combination of robots, sensors, electrical equipment and free programmable test programs that utilize specifically designed algorithms to measure,test, analyze and compare movement.


Battenberg RobSeat testing robot

As the robot carries out the programmed movements, a multi-axis force/torque sensor on the robot hand measures the values of the push forces and turning torques.  These values are then evaluated by the robot’s kinematics and recorded in the RobFlow software, where force versus distance, torque versus angle, etc are analyzed and compared to the required quality standards, tolerance limits and/or levels.  These measurements can either be done in ambient conditions or in a climate controlled chamber.

Beautiful? yes, but how do they feel?

Beautiful? yes, but how do they feel?

Battenberg’s Measuring Robots play an important role in solving real haptic challenges and is a leader in providing objective tactile quality appraisals.  They are know for their high standards in many industries including automotive, medical, lifestyle and household appliances.  For more information please visit

About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of and Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, partner in The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment and serial entrepeneur. A long time automotive enthusiast, Frank started reading car magazines at the age of 8 and has spent 30+ years working inside the automotive industry. In his spare time Frank races with the Sports Car Club of America, spends time working on his numerous project cars and supports many local charities.
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