In testing their new Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning and Brake Support technology, Ford
engineers are using car-size balloons as dummies. Why balloons? The technology that they are testing warns drivers of the hazards in front of them and assists in avoiding a collision by pre-charging the brakes and emitting an audible warning. A key part of the testing process was the fine-tuning of the system's timing. So, in an effort to avoid costly repairs (and injuries), the balloons act as targets, allowing the engineers to test the technology without damaging the test vehicles. As expected, running into the balloons was common, but ultimately it gave them insight into how drivers usually react the moment before an impact, all helpful information in developing the system. All we can say is if crashing into balloons helps to keep drivers from crashing into each other on the road, then maybe it's not as silly as it sounds.