ROGER TROMBLEY AND SHIMUL BHUVA: MARRIED ‘ROAD TRIP’ TEAM MEMBERS ARE IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL

ROGER TROMBLEY AND SHIMUL BHUVA: MARRIED “˜ROAD TRIP’ TEAM MEMBERS ARE IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL

  • Married engineers Roger Trombley and Shimul Bhuva work on Ford Motor Company’s "Mother of All Road Trips" (MOART) – a data collection project that helps ensure the quality and reliability of radar-based safety technologies
  • Trombley, an active safety researcher focused on system algorithms, once got caught in a mountain blizzard while collecting MOART data and had to hike for hours in the freezing cold until getting rescued by a park ranger
  • Bhuva, an active safety engineer focused on audible and visual alerts, is an expectant mom and recently drove a MOART trip with her husband

Roger Trombley, Ford active safety researcher, promised to call his wife and colleague Shimul Bhuva from the road during his 2004 Pacific Northwest stint on Ford Motor Company’s “Mother of All Road Trips” (MOART). Trombley, Bhuva and other Ford researchers take turns driving roads from coast to coast as part of the 25-state, 60,000-mile data collection project that helps ensure the quality and reliability of safety technologies coming to the new 2010 Ford Taurus and other new vehicles.

But the call didn’t come, leaving Bhuva, who was home in Michigan, to wonder what happened to her husband on his drive from Seattle to Eugene, Ore. When the phone finally rang hours later than expected, and was cut short by Trombley, Shimul’s relief turned into frustration.

“We’d been trying to get in touch with each other for days. So, when he didn’t call at the time he said he would I was just fuming,” Shimul recalled. “When he finally called and said he’d been stuck in a blizzard – in October – I thought he was putting me on. Then when I saw the photos I said ‘Oh my god, you really were in a blizzard. I’m so sorry I doubted you.”

Trombley, a collision mitigation engineer, had been driving a MOART data collection route through Crater Lake National Park in Oregon when he and his driving partner encountered an unexpected hazard that put them in harm’s way and kept Trombley from calling home.

The driving rain they encountered at the park entrance turned into a freak blizzard several miles up a mountain road. To make matters worse, they ran out of road due to bad directions and got stuck in a snow drift. Remembering a ranger station several miles back, they set out in the snowstorm without winter wear, food, water or cellular reception. Hours later and desperately cold, they were picked up by a ranger who transported them back to their vehicle and helped them out of the jam.

The Pacific Northwest trip is one of five MOART drives that Trombley and Bhuva have participated in during the past several years. Recently, for the first time, Trombley and Bhuva, who have nearly 20 years of Ford experience between them, teamed up for a mountainous journey from Philadelphia to Atlanta. The road through Shenandoah National Park offered invaluable driving data, because there are many grassy berms along the roadside that the vehicle radar picked up.

MOART’s role in developing radar-based safety technologies
The whole point of MOART is to test new active safety features such as Collision Support with Brake Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross Traffic Alert in every conceivable road condition and environment – from cities to mountains to country roads.

Since radar-based safety features are designed to detect the relative position of other vehicles and warn the driver with a combination of visual and audio alerts, MOART researchers collect data that helps engineers such as Trombley fine-tune system algorithms so that they don’t give false alerts, which engineers such as Bhuva design.

“We’ve always enjoyed traveling together,” said Trombley, who has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in automotive engineering. “It was sheer luck that our work schedules lined up for us to head out on the road together for data collection, and driving such a scenic route made it like a working vacation.”

Work is often part of Trombley and Bhuva’s daily commute as well.

“Our drive home is always focused on work,” said Bhuva, who has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. “We’re always looking at the traffic around us and saying things like “that person could obviously use Lane Departure Warning.’”

Trombley and Bhuva, who met as students at The University of Michigan, have a baby on the way and enjoy home improvement projects, and – not surprisingly – travel.

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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 201,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the companys automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Fords products, please visit www.ford.com.

Oct. 5, 2009

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