While the technology may have interesting names like Noise Source Identification Tool and Aachen Head, the result for consumers is very simple: Quieter automotive interiors. Ford is using these tools to allow engineers to actually see unwanted sounds and eliminate them during vehicle development.
Don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of this technology before – Ford is the first automaker in North America to use the new Noise Source Identification Tool.
“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 eliminate 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.”