Rumble Strips Sing a Song of the Road

Japanese engineers have designed highway rumble strips that make music.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

Why crank up the volume when you're driving in your car when you can have this.

(Soundbite of car engine)

STEWART: Oh, those dulcet tones you're hearing is the sound of a car driving on the road with a special groove surface. The car makes music as the rubber comes into contact with the road. Well, it kind of makes some noise, anyway.

LUKE BURBANK, host:

I think it's a little bit melodic. Researchers are testing these so-called melody roads at three locations in Japan. We found this video from a Japanese news report on these melody roads, and we decided we have to play it for you. We've also put the video on our blog, which is pretty amazing to watch.

STEWART: If you're wondering how this thing works - there are these grooves in the road, and depending on whether they are spaced closed together or far apart, the car makes the high or the low notes. The engineers arranged the grooves in the road so motorists' cars would make sounds similar to a Japanese pop song. Can we hear a little more?

(Soundbite of car engine)

BURBANK: Sounds like the NBC theme song. Here, guys, bring it up a little bit, can you?

(Soundbite of car engine)

STEWART: That's lovely.

BURBANK: Good stuff. Hey, by the way, if you're curious, the optimal speed for driving on a melody road according to The Guardian of London, 28 miles per hour.

The Guardian also collected these blog comments on the road. You need to keep the car windows up or - keep the car windows closed to hear well, one person wrote, and a person said driving too fast will sound like playing fast forward while driving. Around 12 miles per hour has a slow motion effect, making you almost car sick.

STEWART: That would be an issue now, wouldn't it? But anyway, the video's on our Web site.

BURBANK: Melody roads. I think I've seen some of her videos.

STEWART: Go to our blog, npr.org/bryantpark.

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