Ford Improves In-Car Sound Quality through Virtual Reality

After revealing the RUTH robot developed to help refine various touch points around the vehicle's interior, Ford engineers shared yet another secret with us, this time disclosing how they manage to improve the sound inside the vehicle’s cabin. Apparently Ford specialists use a Virtual Vehicle Sound Simulator which helps them refine the noise, vibration and harshness.

“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.”

The method is reportedly cost-effective as well, as 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 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.”

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 aside from delivering interior quietness, also provides vehicle sounds that are more engaging for the customer.

“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,” concluded Clapper.
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