Intent on providing a distinctive sonic signature for its coming range of e-tron electric models, Audi acoustic engineers are now in the process of creating a series of synthetic e-sounds that will effectively warn pedestrians about the proximity of these otherwise near-silent vehicles but do so in a uniquely Audi manner. The pioneering development and implementation work in this arena is primarily being carried out by Rudolf Halbmeir, Axel Brombach and Dr. Lars Hinrichsen using an Audi R8 e-tron prototype as a testbed.
Halbmeir, an accomplished musician and composer, is the individual primarily responsible for creating the actual sonic profile. He believes the e-sound needs to have an emotional character similar to that of traditional music. According to Dr. Lars Hinrichsen, expert for hardware and software, the e-tron itself then directly influences the specific audio signal that's created. "Data relating to the electric motor's rotational speed, vehicle speed, loads, and other parameters is continuously supplied to the control unit. It then uses this data to generate sound."
Brombach, who specializes in seeing that the e-sound is effectively dispersed to the surrounding environment, indicates that the conduit is a single extremely robust loudspeaker affixed to the e-tron's undercarriage. Although capable of handling up to 40 watts of power, he says the system requires a mere 5-8 watts to do its job effectively. Dr. Ralf Kunkel, Head of Acoustics at Audi anticipates the e-sound system will only need to be activated at speeds below about 20 mph, because above that pace, the e-tron's tires will generate sufficient noise to alert pedestrians or cyclists about its proximity. However, we're equally intrigued by the possibility of an e-tron vehicle cranking out a suitably performance-oriented e-sound profile any time it's in motion.