Ford believes it has found a way to replicate human touch in a lab setting.

While before, getting the “human perspective” on a vehicle’s interior depended on–you guessed it!–talking to an actual human, that may now no longer be the case thanks to the Robotized Unit for Tactility and Haptics, or RUTH.

RUTH brings Ford up to the heretofore unprecedented level of being the first car company to use a robot to scientifically “test the appearance and feel of switches and surfaces”.  RUTH uses several parameters, including friction and temperature, to create a set of metrics about the car’s interior based on a database of consumer feedback.  For instance, if the headlight dimmer switch on a 2011 Ford Sledgehammer tests out to be mostly similar to the switch on a 1996 Ford Taurus, and most people liked the Taurus switch, RUTH calls it good.

How well does RUTH work?  Well, no one’s sure yet, but since RUTH’s getting started we should have feedback on RUTH’s performance any day now.