How quiet is too quiet?

Too much noise is not just unpleasant; it can even be dangerous. Each year, noise pollution robs residents of western European cities of more than one million healthy life years, and about half of the people living in cities in Europe are disturbed by noise.

Engineers at Volvo Group actively work with noise-cancellation technologies to make vehicles quieter and safer for people both in the vehicle and outside the vehicle.

“Sound is actually a big part of how you experience a vehicle, and it is important to give the driver, the passenger and the society a good sound experience,” says Janos Turcsany, Head of Volvo Group Noise & Vibration Laboratory.

“During the development phase of our vehicles, we simulate the driving situation at our labs. We measure sound and vibration from the vehicle and with an array of microphones we can also measure during a simulated situation of the vehicle passing by. From the very early stages of research and throughout the development cycle of the product we work towards making our vehicles have the right sound level with a premium sound experience,” says Theresia Manns, Feature Analyst of Noise,Vibration and Harshness at Volvo Group. 

Volvo Group is today making huge strides in the arena of electric vehicles.

“For driver of electric vehicles, less noise and less vibrations means a better working environment in the cab, and a more pleasant and relaxed working day. Electric trucks and their silent operation can also open the door for the possibility to deliver goods at night. That in turn can help to reduce congestion in the city during daytime,” Janos adds.

With pedestrian safety being a vital consideration when designing the soundscape of electric vehicles – silence can though in some aspects be too much of a good thing. For pedestrian safety it is important that the vehicles are not too quiet. Volvo designs its vehicles to be safe for everyone that comes in contact with them and will add an artificial sound to our electric vehicles to increase safety even more.

“It will be a sound that functions as an alerting sound for what we call vulnerable road users, that is pedestrians and cyclists, but one which will minimize the disturbance for people living in buildings nearby,” says Janos.

Theresia Manns and Janos Turcsany are experts in Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH) and work with other engineers to improve pedestrian safety and create the distinct sounds of future vehicles.

Watch the replay of a live webinar with Theresia and Janos here.

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