Researchers at the University of Cincinnati say they have developed a technology that would use rapid sound waves to counter sudden noises heard in a car.
We are used to sound deadening material that is opulently applied to many of our vehicles today, to give an impression of distance and safety. However, while there is no reason to believe that the removal of rather annoying routine noises, such as wind or engine sounds, is a bad idea (as long as you do not buy a car with the explicit reason to hear its engine or exhaust), we found it rather strange that someone would think it equally desirable to get rid of noises that are caused, for example, by a sudden impact.
Guohua Su from the University of Cincinnati developed an algorithm that, in theory, allows him to produce an instant sound wave when, for example, a vehicle would "encounter with potholes, bumps or other roadway pavement obstacles." The sound wave may not completely remove the sound he said, but significantly “erase the perceived road noise heard within the car's cabin."
Call us old-fashioned, but isn't it a matter of road safety to hear those sudden noises to allow a driver to potentially react to a changed road situation or condition? Isn't road noise a form of feedback for the driver? We are not convinced that this is such a great idea - at least as long as we are still in charge of driving our cars, and not a computerized system - but there is time left to actually see (and hear) what Su has in mind. He said that he wants to test the system in an actual vehicle next year, and Ford has apparently agreed to work with him.
Dubbed active noise control (ANC), Su said that the technology will require "a robust algorithm that can efficiently and quickly track such noise and respond to it." He noted that common technology available in a car can help make such a system possible: "For instance, the car’s computer that operates music, GPS, engine sensor and other functions can also be employed to operate an ANC system, and the sensors and even door and roof music speakers now common in various parts of an automobile could be employed to generate ANC signals as needed."