ROADTUNES is advancing the existing curiosity of a musical road by re-engineering the method and materials to invent a better-sounding, longer-lasting, low-cost, zero-maintenance installation using an easy, non-invasive method that is known to improve safety on roadways.
A musical road is essentially a mathematically refined “rumble strip” and when a car drives across the long series of bumps at the pre-determined speed, the tires vibrate – just like any musical instrument – and create the sound of the musical note.
At every point of study, ROADTUNES attempted to improve on previous musical roads. Past methods cut grooves into the road surface with an asphalt saw or pressed divots into the roadway using intense heat and steel templates. Both processes are costly in labor, equipment and time and are prone to error and degradation by the elements. With the help of experts in polymers and manufacturing, our process created a new, patent-pending method of applying a pre-fabricated musical road to the surface of the road. Making this improvement is non-destructive, minimizes road closures and eliminates the need for large crews.
ROADTUNES cares about safety and a great deal of research and engineering has gone into this project to make sure it is safe and durable. Musical roads exist in many countries as a way to influence drivers to keep the safe speed limits; the science of a musical road is calculated for that speed and it has been shown that people have an innate desire to participate with these speeds to experience the musical road. Utilizing DOT-approved materials eliminates risks of interference with traffic and dangerous driving situations.
How does a musical road work?
This is why you pay attention in science class! What makes a musical road work is the basic physics of sound. A short, rapid vibration will create a high note, while a long, slower vibration will create a low note. Just like a guitar string or a saxophone reed, the bumps we make on the road vibrate the tires of your car to “hum” at just the right tones to recreate a melody.
What is a ROADTUNES musical road made out of?
We can’t tell you that. No, really, figuring that out was half the battle. The material we use is a DOT-approved asphalt synthetic with a super-strong adhesive backing that sticks it to the road. We reverse engineer the melody for the speed limit and the ladder-shaped design locks in the calculations.
How long will it last?
We’re still figuring that out. Cars driving over the musical road will make the material thinner over time. By compression and friction, the thinner it gets, the quieter it will sound. Eventually, it will have to be replaced with fresh, new material to regain its volume. We are working on finding the best, most durable materials to help the musical road last as long as it can, but everything will eventually wear down and lose the original sound quality.
One of the great innovations behind ROADTUNES musical roads is that they are semi-permanent and non-destructive to the road surface. Previous installations have been made by cutting or pressing grooves into the road – which also wear down over time – but the patent-pending design of ROADTUNES can allow short-term installations and special events to create a musical road that can be removed anytime without requiring an expensive and cumbersome repaving of the road surface.
Does it really make driving safer?
Yes, it does! Where careless drivers might blow right through a speed zone ignoring safe driving, researchers have found that the human desire to “participate” encourages drivers to keep the posted speed limit to hear the musical road. There are cases of musical roads being installed in Japan just to get drivers to slow down and it has been successful in decreasing accidents and saving lives.
What speed is the best for making musical roads?
Too slow and there’s not enough force in the tire hitting the bumps to make a quality sound…too fast and you’re buzzing right over it and using a lot more material (which can get expensive), but we think the best speed for a musical road is between 35-45mph.
Can you put a musical road anywhere?
ROADTUNES can install a custom-designed musical road anywhere there are relatively straight roads with a fixed speed limit. There should be plenty of space before the installation to get up to the proper speed and plenty of room after it to allow for safe driving. Traffic congestion can cause a change in driving speed and unsafe conditions for passengers enjoying the musical road. Beyond that, it works day or night, sunshine or rain, and for all cars big or small.
🔈🔛🎶— Auburn University (@AuburnU) October 29, 2019
🚙America’s newest musical road is on #Auburn's campus, but do you know the story behind the spot where science meets art?
🛣️Learn more about our #WarEagleRoad & the Auburn University Samuel Ginn College of Engineering alumnus behind the idea: https://t.co/wNJQfsnJDR pic.twitter.com/MfyKOSWVb9
The very first ROADTUNES installation - Auburn’s “War Eagle Road” - is a unique, fun-filled celebration of the university’s tradition and a cultural experience for the community. Each of the first seven notes in Auburn’s famous fight song has been replicated by calculating the unique distance between bumps and repeating them for the duration of the note. The entire installation is just 154 feet long and takes three seconds to drive across and hear your car humming:
“War Eagle! Fly down the field.”