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Ford is using Noise Vision technology and virtual reality to create the best sounding vehicles ever

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Just last week Ford invited us to Dearborn so that we could preview what the American automaker has in store for the upcoming North American International Auto Show, although we can’t extrapolate on the Detroit cars for a few more days, we can tell you about what the blue oval is doing to ensure that their future products sound better then ever. Whether it be the elimination of undesirable noise vibration and harshness or the amplification of Mustang GT’s V8 rumble or the turbochargers on Taurus SHO ’s EcoBoost V6, Ford is going to great lengths to ensure that new car buyers hear everything that they are supposed to, and nothing else.

Ford is using Noise Vision technology and virtual reality to create the best sounding vehicles ever

Our tour started out inside a clean room where Ford’s NVH engineers demonstrated their latest toy, Noise Vision Vision . This state of the art technology is currently being used exclusively by the American automaker, with a little help from two very import sources, Pythagorus and Einstein. The first is an all new instrument that is made up of 31 highly sensitive microphones and 12 different cameras spaced out along the outside of the $200,000 black sphere that create a full 360 degree image of the area being tested. The unit was affectionally named after the 6th century BC Greek philosopher because it is the mathematicians theorem that is used to carry out the calculations being computed by the new Noise Vision system before being projected onto a two dimensional display that can easily be interpreted by Ford’s sound team. Einstein is a traditional Aachen Head, a specially developed sound receiver with microphones mounted inside of a mannequin’s cranium and recreates the human ear canal to ensure the most authentic listening experience possible.

Continued with press release and videos after the jump.

Ford is using Noise Vision technology and virtual reality to create the best sounding vehicles ever

Ford’s NVH engineers use their newfound Noise Vision technology to identify every source of unwanted noise and then catalog their audi waveforms into an extensive database for future cross referencing with newer vehicles. While this setup sounds like the perfect tool to fix that annoying rattle hiding behind your passenger side door panel, don’t expect to see one in your local dealer’s service shop anytime soon. Due to the unit’s extreme cost and expertise required to properly use the system, the setup is a bit too pricy for personal use. So it looks like Pythagorus and Einstein won’t be making any travel arrangements out of Dearborn any time in the near future.

Ford is using Noise Vision technology and virtual reality to create the best sounding vehicles ever

The next stop on our tour took us to Ford’s new Virtual Vehicle Sound Simulator, think of it as the most elaborate Gran Turismo setup you have ever seen this side of a Formula One simulator. The virtual test road allows Ford’s engineering team to look at how everything from road surfaces to exhaust systems and even motor mounts effect what you hear inside the cabin. The largest benefit of the virtual test bed is that engineers can switch back and forth from one vehicle to the next instantaneously without any time to forget what they were just listening to, this allows them to tune the sound of every single new vehicle so that they are all distinctly Ford.

Ford is using Noise Vision technology and virtual reality to create the best sounding vehicles ever

Once the blue oval engineers find the right note in the virtual world, they must then figure out a way to deliver it in real life. This is where the world of those black plastic boxes you find connected to the intake tract under the hood that they like to call Helmholtz Resonators. Aside from designing these units and mufflers to deliver anywhere from a hush to a roar depending on what they feel the customer is after, Ford is also using a few unconventional components to add a bit more attitude into their performance vehicles. Two very interesting pieces being the SHO’s sound generator that amplifies the turbos spooling up sound while Mustang GTs have a sound pipe that directly connects the V8 to the vehicle’s cabin and makes a big difference when you stand on the throttle. So no matter whether you are looking for a relaxed luxury ride or a roaring sports car, you can rest assured that Ford is doing everything they can to make that happen.

Ford is using Noise Vision technology and virtual reality to create the best sounding vehicles ever


PRESS RELEASE

INDUSTRY-LEADING TECHNOLOGIES HELP FORD TOP TOYOTA AND HONDA IN KEY MEASURES OF QUIETNESS

Ford vehicles are now among the quietest on the road – topping Toyota and Honda in key sound quality measures – and customers are taking notice.

Third-party initial quality research shows Ford customer satisfaction with interior quietness now far surpasses Asian rivals, and that Ford vehicles have fewer wind noise, squeak and rattle issues than any other volume automaker.

In fact, the new global Fiesta, headed for the U.S. in 2010, is not only quieter than the leading B-cars, but also quieter than the leading C-cars in both wind noise and rough road surface comparison tests conducted by Ford engineers.

Key to Ford’s success in crafting quiet cabins is the use of everything from traditional wind tunnels to sophisticated virtual reality tools to identify and eliminate unwanted sounds.

The competition among automakers to engineer the quietest vehicles on the road is increasing as interior noise becomes an ever more important factor for customers. More than 80 percent of new vehicle buyers rated quietness as very or extremely important in the Martiz New Vehicle Consumer Survey. Ford brands also have higher interior quietness customer satisfaction scores than their Asian competitors, including Toyota and Honda, according to the RDA Global Quality Research System (GQRS) surveys this year.

“Customers connect a quiet cabin with a quality vehicle, and we know that,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Devel Devel opment. “Step by step, we’re gaining in quality; we’re now on par with Toyota and Honda. And the strides we’re making in interior quietness are all part of the game plan.”

Material advancements
The process for designing a quiet vehicle starts from the outside in. Ford engineers stiffen certain parts of the vehicle, strategically mount engines, and tune the rear suspension to reduce vibration. This can contribute to a quieter and more refined sound for a sedan like Fusion or Taurus, or a sportier and more powerful ride for vehicles like the Mustang or F-150.

Advancements in materials, such as expandable foam pellets strategically placed in the doors, headliner and pillars, can improve sound-deadening efficiency by up to 20 percent. Interiors are further quieted with hood insulators, inner and outer dash absorbers, sound-absorbing carpet, improved ceiling baffles, additional sound absorption in the trunk, and new interior and headliner materials.

Other ways Ford engineers have built interior quietness into the 2010 lineup include:

Acoustic laminated windshields that feature a layer of sound-absorbent vinyl sandwiched between two sheets of glass
Improved body/door sealing to reduce wind noise
Expandable stuffers in the fenders and pillars
Constrained layer damping material on the entire floor to reduce road noise, especially generated by the tires
A retuned air induction system for a more refined powertrain sound
All-new acoustic headliners to further deaden interior noise
High-tech tools

But structural changes and advanced materials are only part of the interior quietness story. The other involves Ford’s innovative use of advanced, proprietary technology that allows its engineers to identify and eliminate unwanted interior sounds.

Ford is the first automaker in North America to use the new tool dubbed “Noise Vision,” which allows engineers to actually see unwanted sounds and eliminate them during vehicle development. The company began using Noise Vision – formally known as the Noise Source Identification Tool – to develop new vehicles for the 2010 model year.

Noise Vision consists of a small sphere that is placed inside the vehicle cabin, equipped with more than 30 highly sensitive microphones and 12 special cameras. Powerful software reads data from Noise Vision Vision and creates a computerized image showing interior noise “hot spots,” including wind noise, squeaks, rattles or unwanted feedback from the engine or road.
“The key to world-class quietness is to pinpoint the source and location of every unwanted sound, no matter how subtle it is,” said Bill Gulker, Ford’s leader of Wind Noise Engineering. “Noise Vision already is paying off for Ford, with the new 2010 Taurus, Fusion, Flex and F-150 achieving the quietest interiors in their class.”

The high-tech tool is similar to thermal imaging used for military work and medical research, and it streamlines what used to be a long, tedious process – helping Ford save both time and money. In the past year alone, the technology has allowed Ford’s NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) engineers to eliminate 200 hours of wind tunnel testing time.
Another Ford-exclusive technology saving time and money is the Virtual Vehicle Sound Simulator, which calibrates cabin sound in a virtual world and reduces the need for real-world testing.

The Virtual Vehicle Sound Simulator is an audio technology that allows engineers to predict sounds based on digital drawings of the vehicle and then combine those sounds into a realistic simulation. For the first time, engineers can hear what a vehicle would sound like under different road conditions, at various speeds, and in a range of gear and throttle conditions as the simulated vehicle shifts, accelerates and decelerates. Engineers also can gather consumer feedback – ultimately providing sounds that are more appealing to customers.

“We strive to continuously stay on the cutting edge of technology to find the most innovative ways to bring the highest-quality vehicles to our customers,” said Kuzak. “We look at every angle, every method, to find ways to improve.”

NEW ’NOISE VISION’ TECHNOLOGY ALLOWS FORD TO SEE AND ELIMINATE UNWANTED INTERIOR SOUNDS

Ford Motor Company is using a new technology that allows engineers to actually see unwanted sounds and eliminate them during vehicle development to ensure new vehicles have the quietest interior cabins.

Ford is the first automaker in North America to use the new “Noise Vision” tool, which is part of Ford’s drive to lead the industry in top vehicle quality and customer satisfaction. Customers connect an ultra-quiet cabin with overall product quality and satisfaction, and quietness is one of the top reasons to buy a vehicle, according to third-party customer satisfaction studies.

“The key to world-class interior quietness is to pinpoint the source and location of every unwanted sound, no matter how subtle it is,” said Bill Gulker, Ford’s leader of Wind Noise Engineering. “Noise Vision already is paying off for Ford, with the new 2010 Taurus, Fusion, Flex and F-150 achieving the quietest interiors in their class.”

Noise Vision is a small sphere that is placed inside the vehicle cabin. It is equipped with more than 30 highly sensitive microphones and 12 special cameras. Powerful software reads data from Noise Vision and creates a computerized image showing interior noise “hot spots,” including wind noise, a squeak or rattle, or unwanted feedback from the engine or the road.

Ford began using Noise Vision – formally known as the Noise Source Identification Tool – to develop new vehicles for the 2010 model year. The high-tech tool’s thermal imaging is similar to the kind used for military work and medical research.

In the past, Ford engineers worked long and hard to identify unwanted rattles, squeaks or knocks. Finding an unwanted sound often was a process of elimination, which could take days or weeks.

Noise Vision streamlines the process to hours, and it’s saving money, too. In the past year alone, the technology has allowed Ford’s North American NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) engineers to reduce 200 hours of wind tunnel testing time a year – saving more than $300,000 in testing costs.

“We used to rely on trial and error to make a vehicle quieter,” said Gulker. “It was a process of elimination that often led us to mask the issue with thicker glass or more sound insulation. Noise Vision literally shows us where the noise is and allows us to eliminate it once and for all.”

Quietness and quality leadership
Today, Ford’s initial vehicle quality is equal to Toyota and Honda. Ford vehicle interior quietness also rivals many luxury brands, including Lexus, according to third-party consumer research.
In fact, Ford has the fewest wind noise, squeak and rattle issues of any full-line vehicle manufacturer, according to the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study. Ford brands also have higher interior quietness customer satisfaction scores than their Asian counterparts, according to the RDA Group’s Global Quality Research System. Ford’s U.S. vehicle leadership includes:

The Ford F-150 is the top model in its segment for quietness, according to the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study. F-150 also is No. 1 in quietness customer satisfaction, according to the RDA Group.
Flex owners are significantly more satisfied with interior quietness than the majority of owners of competing crossovers, according to J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study.
The Lincoln MKZ beats the current Lexus ES350 in key interior quietness attributes, such as road noise at 30 mph and wind noise at 80 mph, according to the RDA Group.
Ford Escape is tied with the Honda CRV for first place in the small utility segment for interior quietness customer satisfaction, according to the RDA Group.

SOUND EFFECTS: FORD USING VIRTUAL REALITY TO FINE-TUNE SOUND QUALITY INSIDE FUTURE VEHICLES

It looks a bit like a racing game in a video arcade, but the driver wears headphones. The object of this high-tech drive down the digital highway? Perfect the sound quality inside a future Ford vehicle long before the first prototype is ever built.

Ford Motor Company is the first North American automaker to utilize the Virtual Vehicle Sound Simulator to fine-tune sound inside a vehicle’s cabin, part of a continuing effort by Ford to deliver industry-leading quietness and refinement with minimal noise, vibration and harshness.

The Virtual Vehicle Sound Simulator can shave valuable time and cost out of the vehicle development process. Calibrating cabin sound in the virtual world reduces the amount of real-world testing needed in the wind tunnels and on the test track once vehicles reach the prototype stage.

“We know sound inside a vehicle is a major factor in customer satisfaction,” said Mark Clapper, technical leader for noise, vibration and harshness at Ford. “This is a major leap in technology that will provide Ford with a significant competitive advantage.”

Listening virtually
The new Virtual Vehicle Sound Simulator technology gives Ford sound engineers capabilities similar to their visual counterparts, who are doing groundbreaking work with virtual reality and animation software – creating immersive experiences that allow designers to virtually sit in vehicles during the computer design process.

With the audio technology, engineers also predict sounds based on digital drawings of the vehicle and then combine those sounds into a realistic simulation. For the first time, engineers can hear what a vehicle would sound like under different road conditions, at various speeds and in a range of gear and throttle conditions as the simulated vehicle shifts, accelerates and decelerates.

Previously, Ford engineers would test the sound quality of specific components one at a time, playing back and measuring the sound of each component under a single drive condition. Now engineers can hear the way a vehicle’s interior sounds in real-time under dozens of drive conditions simply by clicking through them. This ensures that the sound quality of the individual parts work in harmony with each other for a holistic analysis of the sound data.

For example, engineers can test the sound output from multiple exhaust system designs for a future model pickup truck while also switching between a variety of drive events that are likely to change in the real world, such as road surfaces, vehicle load conditions, shift points, vehicle and wind speeds, and throttle output.

“We create an array of 76 different simulated sounds from data gathered about the proposed vehicle,” said Clapper. “We consider body shape and powertrain design under various road conditions and speeds. When we drive the simulator, it’s amazing how we’re able to recognize sounds with our ears that we would have never picked up otherwise from that mountain of data.”

Ford engineers also can make comparisons against competitive vehicles with a simple click of the mouse. It allows them to perfect and enhance interior sounds from the earliest stages, which will help Ford to improve vehicle sound year after year.

Based on software from the aerospace and video gaming industries, the sound simulator also is proving to be the ideal tool to gather consumer research. Ford asks consumer test groups to don the headphones and provide feedback on the sound of vehicles. In past testing, vehicles stripped of their branding would be put to the consumer test, but consumers often still recognized the make of the vehicle they were driving. Now, consumers can rate Ford vehicles they can’t even drive yet in the real world.

“Sometimes what looks acceptable on a spreadsheet sounds bad once you actually hear it in real life, which is why simulating sound real-time and under real-world conditions helps us to weed out unpleasant sounds before our designs even make it to the drawing board,” Clapper said.

Clapper says his team is now able to eliminate mistakes up front, reduce the need for prototyping, shorten the time to market, and produce a product that not only delivers high-end interior quietness, but also provides vehicle sounds that are more engaging for the customer.

Industry-leading interior quietness
The Virtual Vehicle Sound Simulator will help Ford build upon significant strides it has made in quietness and overall sound quality in recent years. Ford design and engineering teams have begun delivering interior quietness that rivals many luxury brands, according to third-party consumer research.

Ford has the fewest wind noise, squeaks and rattle issues of any full-line vehicle manufacturer, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ Initial Quality Study. Ford brands also achieve higher interior quietness customer satisfaction scores than their Asian counterparts, according to RDA Group’s Global Quality Research Study.

A number of improvements in sound-deadening technologies and materials on Ford vehicles help block the noise outside so that the inside is a quiet, tranquil environment for driver and passengers.

Advancements in materials, such as expandable foam pellets strategically placed in the doors, headliner and pillars, can improve sound-deadening efficiency by up to 20 percent. Interiors are quieted further with hood insulators, inner and outer dash absorbers, sound-absorbing carpet, improved ceiling baffles, additional sound absorption in the trunk, and new interior and headliner materials.

Engineers stiffen certain parts of the vehicle, strategically mount engines and retune the rear suspension to reduce vibration, all to deliver a ride that fits the vehicle – quieter and more refined for a sedan like Fusion or Taurus, while sportier and more powerful for a Mustang or F-150.
Other ways Ford engineers build interior quietness into the 2010 lineup include:

Acoustic laminated windshields that feature a layer of sound-absorbent vinyl sandwiched between two sheets of glass
Improved body/door sealing to reduce wind noise
Expandable stuffers in the fenders and pillars
Constrained layer damping material on the entire floor to reduce road noise, especially generated by the tires
A retuned air induction system for a more refined powertrain and sound
All-new acoustic headliners to further deaden interior noise

An example of Ford’s improvements can be heard in the all-new 2010 Ford Taurus, which achieved the quietest levels ever recorded in Ford labs following wind tunnel tests. Improvements are also found in the 2010 Ford Fusion Ford Fusion , which features side mirrors designed to deflect air without creating wind noise. Engineers and designers produced a mirror that actually generates less wind noise than a vehicle without side-view mirrors.
Ford also raised the bar on road noise against competing models. The Lincoln MKZ, for example, holds the lowest recorded sound level measurement in internal 30-mph tests, coming in 3.5 dBA quieter than the Acura TL and 1.7 dBA quieter than the Lexus ES350.

“A 3 or 4 dBA variance in the 30-mph test results is definitely a noticeable difference to drivers or passengers. These are meaningful improvements that significantly enhance the driving environment,” according to Mark McCarthy, manager, Vehicle Program NVH. “We made a concerted effort to fine-tune every component that could contribute to noise so that we can deliver a driving experience that rivals some of the high-end luxury brands, but at an affordable price.”




2 comments:

It was like a detector and a voice changer package and of course as a car enthusiast, we don’t want a crap sound when we’re driving and this device surely suit for your expectation. It’s kinda expensive and for the way they’re testing it, they want to make sure that the level of sound in maximum or minimum is in the level of what they want to hear or rather drivers wants to hear.

Sounding technology cant compare with the natural engine sound, for others engine noise is a music to their ears.

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