Ford Using World War I "Early Warning" Technology to Make New SUVs Quieter

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Photo: Ford Motor Company

When the engineers at Ford were looking for an innovative way to reduce noise in the all-new Escape, they didn’t look to the future for cutting edge technology, they looked into the past. Way back to World War 1, back before there was radar and the most cutting edge technology was something called an “acoustic mirror.”

WW1 Acoustic Mirror, Kilnsea - Copyright Paul Glazzard and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License/ Geograph.org.uk

Constructed on the coasts of Great Britain in the early 1900′s, these huge stone “listening ears” were an early warning system that could detect approaching enemy aircraft and Zeppelins before they could be seen. Once aircraft became faster, and radar became prevalent, these acoustic mirrors went unused. Until now.

Ford adopted the technology, using elliptical acoustic mirrors (basically a dish with a microphone) for the first time on the development of the new Escape to “see” the leaks a car has that would allow exterior sound to penetrate into the vehicle. This technology has been commonly used by European luxury car makers and it measures noises on the surface of the vehicle and in the airflow.

The engineering team was able to make changes to the Escape shape, specifically the mirrors and A-pillar, while in the early clay model phase to test theories and validate expected results.

Work was done in the Ford Aeroacoustic Wind Tunnel in Germany in more than 160 hours of engineering. And the result, according to Ford, is a new Escape quieter than the outgoing vehicle, and preliminary data shows it will be among the leaders in interior quietness.

No word on whether it will be able to detect incoming Fokkers.

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