There are many features that an autonomous car have, but an artificially intelligent “ear” is not one of them. However, this could change real soon.

With today’s modern cars, companies try to provide drivers with a distraction-free drive. This is why sometimes external sounds from the road do not reach the ears of the driver. Apart from this partial soundproofing of cars by companies, there are the booming speakers that play deafening music inside the cars.

As the important sounds are unable to reach drivers’ ears, the researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology (IDMT) in Oldenburg, Germany have created “ears” for the cars to hear the important sounds and deliver them to the driver. This will enable the cars to listen and respond to their surrounding sounds.

How it Works

For the “ear” of the car, the researchers will be using a microphone that is placed inside a protective casing, mounted outside of the car. This microphone will pick up the external noise and send it to a special control unit, that will be inside the car. This control unit contains the driver software for the microphone. Inside this software, there is a library containing different sounds and noises. The software is able to recognise different important sounds by discarding irrelevant background noise with the help of a computer algorithm. 

Now, the main purpose of the tech is to deliver sounds, like ambulance siren noise approaching from the rear to the driver. So to capture dynamic sounds, the researchers designed their own “beamforming algorithms”.

The researchers of Fraunhofer IDMT are quite confident about their new tech. They believe that modified versions of the same can help in other primary sectors. According to them, the tech can be utilised in quality control in industrial manufacturing. By using smart battery-powered acoustic sensors audio signals can be processed. Then these signals can be sent to a processor to analyse for any damage in the production plant.

The researchers also believe that this tech will be immensely advantageous for autonomous vehicles. The “ears” of the cars can help prevent many accidents by keeping the drivers alert all the time.