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Pitch Perfect Paving

By on July 1, 2008
RoadKing Mag

Japan now has a way to deliver music to drivers that doesn’t require batteries.

A car driving over a series of grooves cut into the pavement will create a resonance as the tires move over them, resulting in a true road song.

According to reports, the system was the brainchild of Shizuo Shinoda, who accidentally scraped some markings into a road with a bulldozer, before driving over them and realizing they produced a variety of tones. Engineers from the Hokkaido Industrial Research Institute have since built three melody roads, on less traveled, curve-free stretches. The music lasts for about 30 seconds and is highlighted by colorful musical notes painted on the highway.

The concept is definitely not without its imperfections (and probably won’t hit the U.S. anytime soon). First, vehicles must keep their windows closed to hear the desired sounds. They will also have to travel at an optimum speed of 28 mph, which is a good way to tick off the drivers behind them on the highway.

Questions also remain as to the long-term effect of the grooved surfaces on tire wear, whether the altered roadway will need more maintenance over the years, and if Japanese residents will rebel against an extravagant use of public funds for no real purpose. But it sure is cool. — HD

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