If you saw the answer to this question in person, volume measurement probably wouldn’t make the short list of answers: What could 56,778 pingpong balls possibly be doing in a single Ford Escape?
Unless you guessed measuring interior volume, you’re wrong. But is that really such a good way to measure? GM vehicle architecture supervisor Eric Jackson thinks so.
“It probably doesn’t seem like it, but pingpong balls are more accurate than using a tape measure to get the volume of odd-shaped spaces like a glove compartment,” he said.
It might seem low tech in an era where electronic safety systems grow increasingly sophisticated and cars are even driving themselves, but as car shapes become increasingly organic, the old tape measure started to lose its touch.
You might be wondering how Ford’s engineers could possibly measure accurately given the gap between the balls, but it’s actually very simple. By calculating the cubic volume for one of the balls, Ford can account for the gaps and calculate volume accordingly.
Of course that’s not the only measuring stick in the company’s arsenal. it also uses computer aided drafting (CAD) to get a precise measurement and a laser scanning device to measure volume in competing vehicles.