Ford’s Funny Suits Make Life Easier for Everyone
Pregnancy bellies & leg braces are all part of Ford’s efforts to engineer empathy into truck and SUV design.
Hopping into your F-150 or Expedition is fairly easy enough if you’re a young buck. Just open the door, slide on in, start the engine, and head off to adventure. Of course, you could have some soreness from leg day, or a broken arm from trying to ride eight seconds on a four-legged bronco, which could make jumping into your truck a might more difficult than usual. But those things go away soon enough, leaving you to enter and exit with the greatest of ease once more.
And yet, there are some who do have a harder time hopping in with you, from your wife with a set of twins on the way, to your old man who taught you how to fix your truck by having you help with his growing up. Ford knows this, too, which is why they’ve draped a few funny suits onto some of their engineers in order to improve their products so all can enjoy them.
Ford’s team of Human Factor Engineers use what the Blue Oval calls “Engineering Empathy” to simulate everything from pregnancies to drunk driving. The most noticeable suit, of course, is the Pregnancy Suit, designed to resemble what women goes through during the third trimester of a typical (i.e., one child) pregnancy. It might look like the funniest bulletproof vest ever designed, but the 35 pounds the suit adds to a wearer’s body, as well as the distribution of the weight, puts you in the biggest shoes the women in your life will likely ever wear.
Of course, if you’re wondering why your dad isn’t as fast and agile as he used to be, the Third Age Suit puts you in his worn work boots right quick. It weighs less than the Pregnancy Suit at 20 pounds, but there are also braces for the knees, elbows, and neck, as well as gloves, earplugs and glasses to bring you down to earth.
All of this is meant to help Ford’s engineers design interiors and key components to work with as many drivers and passengers as possible. After all, wouldn’t you love to see your dad take your truck for a spin? Or, perhaps, the mother of your first child be able to go to the grocery store in the Explorer as quickly as she did before she became pregnant? We like to think so.