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Ford’s new noise-cancelling tech aims to give you a silent ride



Auto giant Ford has announced a new Active Noise Control feature, which it claims will make the interior of its cars perform like a pair of giant noise-cancelling headphones.

The system emits sound waves that will cancel out noise from the engine, transmission, passing cars and winds, just like a pair of the commuter-friendly personal audio accessories.

The system uses three microphones in the cabin to detect "undesirable noise" and counters it by sending opposing sound waves through the car’s audio system.

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The company says driver and vehicle behaviour is recorded and anticipated, so the harsher sounds caused by accelerating in a lower gear will be offset by the audio system.

“Whether listening to a favourite playlist, tuning into a much-loved station, or simply enjoying a respite from the demands of modern life, the experience of sound – and, just as importantly, silence – can be a fundamental part of an enjoyable car journey,” said Dr Ralf Heinrichs, Ford Europe’s noise vibration harshness supervisor.

Active Noise Control, which also benefits from sound-absorbing, thinner than human hair, acoustic glass around the vehicle, will debut on the new Ford Mondeo Vignale in 2016.

“Noise is intrusive and reduces the driver’s mental processing power, and can lead to distraction and stress,” said Dr John Cartwright, chief medical officer, Ford of Britain. “By removing unwanted powertrain noise, Ford is helping customers to complete their journey calmly and in comfort.”


November 12, 2015, 7:03 am

What about the sound of a bicycle bell?

Mark Southee

November 12, 2015, 9:49 am

Should be useful if Justin Bieber comes on the radio :-)


November 12, 2015, 9:56 am

What about it? I assume you are suggesting that the noise cancelling features might muffle outside sounds that are desirable from a safety perspective, but I would counter that:

(a) active noise cancelling is likely just a cheaper way to achieve acoustics which more closely mimic those of luxury cars - e.g. a Mercedes S-Class already has wonderful insulation from noise;

(b) noise cancelling headphones typically work better with low frequency droning sounds, than higher frequencies and percussives, and Ford's system is expressly stated to be aimed at reducing "unwanted powertrain noise" so arguably the reduction in engine and road noise would improve the audibility of e.g. a bicycle bell; and

(c) bicycle bells are a scourge and should be banned - they are rarely heard by drivers over traffic, radio, etc., and generally only serve to give their users a false sense of security and to annoy pedestrians when cyclists use the bell to clear a path so they can barge down pavements or through red lights.

There are much more effective ways to stay safe on a bike - stay visible (lights and high vis clothing, especially in the dark); don't take silly risks; cycle defensively; never assume a driver can see you; obey the traffic laws; keep up with traffic; don't ride in the gutter - claim your lane; if you need to get a driver's attention, shout or slam your hand against his car. It's not rocket science. I cycled daily in London traffic for 7 years and, by observing these common sense rules, only had one incident, when a car turned left across my cycle lane without seeing me, despite my neon clothing and forest of bike lights. A bell wouldn't have made a blind bit of difference.

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