Magazine article USA TODAY

Race Car Sounds Reveal Performance

Magazine article USA TODAY

Race Car Sounds Reveal Performance

Article excerpt

The sound of a race car as it tears around a track reveals not only engine performance, but the driver's technique and racing team's strategy, engineers at Ohio State University, Columbus, have found. They have developed a method of computer analysis that "listens" to the pitches of sound coming from a car and extracts valuable information.

The same technique could be used to gauge the performance of any complicated piece of machinery, such as power plant turbines, suggests Giorgio Rizzoni, associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of the university's Center for Automotive Research.

Deciphering useful information from engine noise isn't easy, he explains. "An engine roars at several different pitches simultaneously, much like the harmonics of a musical instrument. The change in pitch as a car whizzes by complicates matters further."

The engineers developed equations to analyze the change in frequency of car sounds over time. At trackside, they can record the sound of a car and calculate on a computer its instantaneous speed and trajectory. …

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