Ford trucks are built to pretty exacting standards. In fact, the manufacturer has an entire testing program designed around the motto “Built Ford Tough,” and tough the testing is. This regime has recently been augmented with the addition of robotic technology allowing the vehicles to be driven remotely through even more demanding courses—ensuring that the upcoming generation of Ford trucks will be built even tougher than ever before.

If you’ve tackled driving in the rougher weather or rougher terrain around Frankfurt, a Ford truck has probably been your best friend. This is because for decades, Ford trucks have been the standard in durability due to the quality of build and testing. However, according to Ford manager for vehicle development operations Dave Payne, “Some of the tests we do on our commercial trucks for North America are so strenuous that we limit the exposure time for human drivers.” This is where robots come in.

In order to ensure that vehicles like the new 2014 Ford Transit van are up to the standard and able to face the toughest conditions, robotic technology has been utilized to drive the test-vehicles through test courses. Although the courses are pre-programmed, the robotic driver can control steering, acceleration, and braking, while being tracked via GPS. Additional, sensors can initiate emergency stopping if obstacles like other cars or pedestrians enter the course.

Using this technology, Ford is able to compress years’ worth of strenuous use onto a test vehicle in a course measured in hundreds of yards. This technology is important in making keeping Ford trucks as durable as possible. According to Payne, the objective for Ford was “to create a test track solution that allows for this type of intense testing that could take our vehicles to the most extreme limits of their engineering while ensuring the safety of all involved.” In other words, to make sure every vehicle is “Built Ford Tough.”