EVER HEARD OF RENAULT'S ANECHOIC CHAMBERS? NEITHER DID WE.
Have you ever even heard of an anechoic chamber? It’s not really something that will pop up in casual conversation unless you’re someone who works with them or who is passionate about sounds and sound waves. An anechoic chamber is a place that can actually drive a person mad, but we’re here because Renault has one, and they use it to make the daily life of Renault owners a much more pleasurable experience whether they know it or not. Thanks to certain combinations of materials covering every surface in a room, sound can be virtually eliminated - well sound waves, electromagnetic waves and even reflections can. If you're in a chamber like this you’ll only hear someone when they’re talking to you so that the sound has a direct path. With no ambient sounds you can hear your heartbeat throughout your body. Weird.
Normandy is home to Aubevoye Technical Centre, Renault's testing and engineering facility located 100 km northwest of Paris. The expansive property extends across more than 600 hectares of land with nearly 60 km of test tracks, 44 test lines, 18 corrosion chambers, and a pair of wind tunnels among other fascinating things. The anechoic chambers are there to help improve the quality of audio in the Renault range of cars, as well as the ambient noises produced by engines and components. To be anechoic, the walls and ceiling of the first room are covered with foam panels of horizontal and vertical prisms, these protrusions dissipate sound waves instead of reflecting them. In fact, the floor doesn't have any foam on, so it’s not 100% anechoic.
Here they measure the car’s sound-proofing in relation to noise generated by the engine, tyres, or anything else in the direct vicinity - fine-tuning the car’s sound proofing and working the noises that make up the user’s acoustic experience - the car door closing, alarms and chimes and the like. With the low hum of an idling combustion motor eliminated, more attention can be paid to smaller details, like the noise made by indicators, the clicking of buttons, touch-screen feedback beeps even plugging in seatbelts.
Then there’s the Immunity Chamber, where, as the name suggests, extreme electromagnetic testing takes place, like on the Megane E-TECH Electric. The walls are covered with white panels atop a thick layer of insulation. A variety of antennae attack the car with electromagnetic waves of varying intensities and frequencies to simulate things like driving past phone towers, TV transmitters, automatic speed radars and the like. The walls block electromagnetic waves and isolate the car from the outside world so they can test how the car transmits and receives radio, telephone, or GPS waves. The Radio Frequency Chamber is where the car’s aerials are tested, it covers nearly 300 m² and is 11 metres high and the walls, floor, and ceilings are covered with large foam cones. It is the only completely anechoic chamber at the Aubevoye Technical Centre.
While it looks like something Professor X would have created these amazing rooms, it was just the usual men in white coats. It's actually amazing to see what goes into designing and creating cars. It's not just bolting parts together to make a car, there's actually research and development put into how all those components sound when they work together. Technology is amazing!
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