Science

Ford has revealed the secrets of the artificial bird poop they use to test paint

Ford has revealed how its tests the effects of bird poop on its paint.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

While getting a bit of bird poo on you may be good luck in some countries, the thought of you, or your car, wearing a smidgeon from a pigeon's posterior isn't all that great. In fact, it can be quite harmful if you don't wipe it off your car quickly.

Bird poop is often white and black, but it's not all poop. The white part is uric acid, the equivalent of human urine. The poop itself is made in the digestive system and while both can be secreted at the same time, it happens with such speed that the two don't have time to mix.

That combination can degrade a vehicle's exterior, burning its way through the clear coat and, in some cases, bleaching the paint itself. Paint has evolved, like every other component in the auto industry, and automakers are finding new ways to research the effect of droppings on new paints.

Ford is using artificial bird poop.

The solution that makes up the test droppings is produced in a laboratory in Germany, and its combination of ingredients reflects the different diets of various species of bird life throughout Europe.

To test the paint hardiness, sample test panels are sprayed with the solution then aged at 40° C, 50° C and 60° C in an oven to replicate customer use in extreme heats.

The results determine what happens next.

Ford can fine-tune the pigments, resins, and additives that go into making a car's paintwork. By changing up the make-up to resist the pollutants, no matter the weather, Ford is able to offer its customers a longer-lasting paint job.

The automaker can also conduct other types of tests including a UV test, which bombards paint with ultraviolet light for up to 6,000 hours (250 days) in a light lab – simulating five years in the brightest place on Earth. They can simulate the paint being frozen in sub-zero temperatures, expose it to harsh winter road grime in a high humidity salt chamber, and simulate fuel staining.

Ford Versus Bird Poopwww.youtube.com

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The IIHS may increase the speeds it uses to test advanced driver aids.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that it is considering changing the speeds it uses to test vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The agency currently tests the systems at 12 and 25 mph, but says that the speeds don't accurately represent the types of crashes the safety tech is meant to prevent.

Front crash preventionwww.youtube.com

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to notify of a possible collision and help respond with automatic application of braking. Just like a human using the brake pedal, it can stop the car, but higher speeds make it difficult to stop in time. The new tests would be conducted at 35 to 45 mph, which is the range where a large number of rear-end crashes occur. As Automotive News noted, an IIHS study showed 43 percent of rear-end crashes occur at speeds of 45 mph or less, so it's important to have a test that shows how well the tech performs at those levels.

A whopping 85 percent of 2022 vehicles earned a "Superior" rating in the current testing regime, so the IIHS will remove it from 2023 testing and Top Safety Pick award evaluations. Their view is that, since the majority of vehicles meet the criteria, it's no longer an accurate way of evaluating performance. In its place, the agency introduced a night test for automatic emergency braking systems that will begin next year.

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Lincoln will not make a performance variant to compete with Cadillac.

Lincoln

TheLincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade have been duking it out at the top of luxury SUV rankings for decades, but there’s one area of the Caddy’s development that Lincoln won’t touch. In a recent interview, a company executive told Ford Authority that it has no plans to create a performance variant of the Navigator to compete with the upcoming Escalade V from Cadillac.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe new Navigator features several upscale touches and excellent tech. Lincoln

That means the Navigator will stick with the powertrain it’s carried for years, which is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a smooth ten-speed automatic and either rear- or four-wheel drive. While there’s more than enough power to get the hulking Lincoln moving, it’s not a powertrain that inspires excitement or engagement, and though beefy, it’s tuned much more for comfort and quietness than drama.

Though more than adequate, those specs are a far cry from the numbers we expect from the Escalade V. The full-size bruiser from Cadillac is expected to get a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, similar to the unit seen in the CT5-V Blackwing and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We don’t know power numbers yet, but the engine should deliver horsepower and torque numbers in the high 600s.

Cadillac Escalade VThe Escalade V will be massively powerful. Cadillac

That Lincoln is taking a different approach isn’t surprising. The automaker has already announced its intention to go all-electric, so pouring more time and resources into creating a performance gas-powered SUV isn’t in line with its goals. Company executives have also expressed a desire to avoid imitating rivals, so the decision to leave a performance Navigator behind is not surprising.

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