As kids we used a clothes pin and a playing card on our bikes to make them sound like motorcycles!
US regulators have sensibly ditched proposals to allow electric car manufacturers to offer a choice of sounds to warn pedestrians that the unusually quiet vehicles are approaching. Electric vehicles produce less noise when compared to cars powered by combustion engines, a situation that is considered a safety risk. The …
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If some moto goes "hang on for the ride, dearie!" to the tune of The Ride of the Valkyries uncomfortably close behind my ear, I really do not want to have to stop and think about what is going on.
There are so many reasons for honking off nowadays, they really do need to be standardised.
[Wot no so-far-out-it's-in-the-wrong-universe icon?]
... is that the NHTSA has nixed the idea of user selectable sounds, but apparently, at least for now, have not retricted the manufacturers on what sound(s) they can use. So if BMW or Cadillac did decide to use some rap beat, that would be OK as long as it isn't user selectable?
Unsure on this. User selectable noises refuted because of lack of evidence, but is there evidence that a completely standardised noise is required either?
It feels like common sense to me that a standardised noise is better, but common sense is neither that common, nor always right.
A "few" recognisable sounds doesn't seem like a massive issue to me, unless there is evidence suggesting there is a problem with that!
Edit a few mins later: also unrelated from a consumer perspective I'd probably choose the most obnoxious noise possible to avoid any liability being mine if the choice had to be mine - I doubt I'd be alone and the roads would sound like a Vegas casino. Glad it's not on the consumer
What with noise pollution being an increasing issue in towns and cities, I was praying for the EV revolution to improve the sound environment for everyone.
Noise pollution is a huge source of stress for a lot of people.
Back when I used to work in a corner office, I remember at 6pm when the air conditioning went off for the night the feeling of an enormous weight being lifted off of my shoulders. The thing is, it wasn't really that noisy, just a low background drone. You just don't know how oppressive low-level noise can be until it is gone.
I understand the problems that they are trying to address, but I really dread what these vehicles are going to be made to sound like.
Once the vast majority of vehicles are EV’s we could ditch this as tyre noise would be enough. I’m sighted but a runner. I recognise bike tyre noises very quickly so I can move over. usually before the rider has rung their bell (folk around here are good like that).
I don’t listen to music when walking or running partly for this reason, I use my ears a lot. Hearing the declining notes of a car coming from behind as I approach a side road causes me to look and see their indicator for eg.
I'm a cyclist and often hear the noise of tyres on the road (especially the huge off-road treaded ones), however there are many instances when there is enough wind noise (through nearby trees or shrubs, around my ears and helmet) or other ambient noise that I do not hear the car until it is quite close. Not that this has been a problem for me -- yet -- but given how shite so many people drive already I have concern about removing any of the few warnings we have.
As for type of noise, why not just have it sound like the EV's combustion-engine equivalent for car type, e.g., generic compact, four-door sedan, grocery getter (station wagon or SUV), land yacht luxury sedan, mini-pickup truck, and so on and be done with it?
I am still open to something that is subdued but distinctive, but vintage engine sounds would be a reasonable solution, and since in most areas the ICE transition is going to take years, we will be hearing plenty of them anyway.
You might also be able to lower the volume slightly when the ambient sound is lower, and crank it up when it is being drowned out by traffic noise. Either way, I think it is stupid to set this in stone while we haven't seen what works well yet. Only what doesn't,like a silent e-bike tyre jammed into a pedestrian's crack while the walk down the sidewalk.
> I'm a cyclist and often hear the noise of tyres on the road
Right, but can you hear the tyre noise of a car stopped at a stop sign at an intersection? A car that is about to accelerate away - you need to know there is an 'active' but stationary vehicle so that you can anticipate a potential moving vehicle in a few seconds.
Or a car slowly backing out of a driveway or parking space? Do they produce enough tyre noise to hear? Even if they produce enough tyre noise when moving slowly, when walking along the footpath pierced by driveways, it's nice to be able to get notice that a car might be about to start using that driveway by being able to hear an 'idling' car in the driveway, which signals that there soon may be a slowly moving vehicle.
This proposal seems to be about vehicles moving at less than 30km/h - including stationary idling vehicles - for situations where tyre and wind noise may not be adequate to signal that there is a slowly moving or soon to be moving (in the case of stationary 'idling') vehicle.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141 requires electric vehicles to produce a pedestrian alert sound when stationary, reversing, and in forward gear up to a speed of 30 km/h.
I can state from personal experience that even something as loud as a fighter jet doing five hundred or so knots a couple of hundred metres away is not noticeably audible over 30kph paraglider wind noise until a second or two before it passes.
Once it's past, then you can hear it, but it's a bit late then... and also, you're a bit busy dealing with the wake turbulence.
I can state from personal experience that even something as loud as a fighter jet doing five hundred or so knots
Not exactly a fighter, but perhaps appropriate for an EV fx file?
Or perhaps why EV's shouldn't allow drivers to pick their own music. I also ended up watching some superhero/action movie recently that had a motorbike chase.. Except the bikes were electric, and just sounded wrong. I guess it'll take a while for us to adjust to the idea of whiney motors indicating drama and excitement rather than just thinking it'll be a short chase due to range restrictions.
"I guess it'll take a while for us to adjust to the idea of whiney motors indicating drama and excitement rather than just thinking it'll be a short chase due to range restrictions."
Even now, with much of the world using digital TV and/or video, some productions still use the "snow" effect on screens with no signal for "dramatic effect" or obvious analogue signal break-up for weak signals :-)
is for type of noise, why not just have it sound like the EV's combustion-engine equivalent for car type, e.g., generic compact, four-door sedan, grocery getter (station wagon or SUV), land yacht luxury sedan, mini-pickup truck, and so on and be done with it?
Rolls Royce Merlin for mine then.
> And pedestrians don't hear those! (or ignore them)
I think the problem is that the sound is so common now, so many vehicles emit this sound, it's not really a warning sound of something reversing that you have to be cautious of. Is it that truck? Or that one? Or that one? I mean, if there are 8 trucks nearby, why would you pinpoint that noise to the truck that is reversing behind you in your blind splot?
Warning noises are only useful if they they aren't routine sounds. If that sound is emitted continously all around you, you do tend to filter it out.
So... uh... pay attention to one's surroundings? Apply a little self-preservation? It's really not that hard. Too many people today are so self-absorbed and believe that eveyone else around them will look out for them, they can basically zone out and it'll be fine.
Warning noises are only useful if they they aren't routine sounds. If that sound is emitted continously all around you, you do tend to filter it out.
I think it's more nuanced than all routine sounds are filtered out. Associating sounds with a sense of danger makes filtering out less likely. Most people crossing the road, for instance, will still listen for an approaching vehicle even if they can't see it - say crossing between parked cars. Well I do. I and I teach my kids to. And I assume anyone who wants to live would at least react to something really loud approaching.
"Warning noises are only useful if they they aren't routine sounds. If that sound is emitted continously all around you, you do tend to filter it out."
If you are in a lorry nest, yes, you would hear those annoying backup beeps too much. If you are walking or cycling down the street without earbuds blasting loud enough to leave only 30 minutes of battery time at a go, you might detect a car backing out of a drive where there is limited sight lines.
I don't just randomly swerve into the lane while riding my bike so I'm not that worried about EV's making an artificial noise when they are going forward. I sort of think it a good way to weed out the idiots even at the cost of a few surviving.
Nope, we can't. The data for forcing all cars to use the same sound is almost as weak as the data for user selectable sounds.
There are some clear problems with silent killer cars, and with letting any idiot put any sound on any vehicle. I will go so far as to say it is a good thing that cars sound like cars, because its obvious and literally in the weeds. After that you are in the weeds as far as research goes.
The idea that every electric vehicle in the US will make exactly the same sound falls apart the moment you start picking at the threads.
Millions of earlier gen EV's are on the road already. So are millions of non-EV and hybrid cars that are about as quiet when they are not under power. Telling blind people that the can count on all the cars will make the same sound is a lie that will kill people. If it is a lie that will kill people, why are we accepting it as justification for this regulation change? In addition there is no indication that this scheme will be international, so you may also kill americans abroad as they look the wrong way and step in front of the unfamilar chord of a Renault or Skoda.
In addition, if, as I stated before the vehicles are limited to tones set my the automaker and cleared as appropriate for the vehicle type, the sound can tell you about the type of vehicle, not just that there is "something" there. That means a person can react appropriately if the light and airy tone of a kids scooter is pulling up behind them, as opposed to the grumbling growl of the trash truck that is moving a dumpster. One will probably go around you, the other may be about to smash you with a trash can.
So how about we let the manufacturers set something reasonable and let US-DOT do some actual research on this, then co-ordinate with the manufactuers so that there is an agreed solution that has been more thoroughly sanity checked.
Dear AC, you've obviously put a lot of thought in to your comment.
Probably more than is necessary.
A single regulated sound would work.
I'm lucky in that I can both see and hear, not very well in both cases, but that's an age thing.
I'd welcome a simple, single solution.
We'd all know where we were with that.
"A single regulated sound would work."
Better make it a 454 Hemi V8 with open pipes and a racing cam. Because that's the sound I'll be rolling up behind you with. And it sure would be a shame if a Prius used something different.
Think of the confusion dealing with a different sound could cause.
"Think of the confusion dealing with a different sound could cause."
Not counting current EVs, there's a limited range of sounds from moving vehicles, whether that be whatever penis extension it was you just described or a Reliant Robin. If the variation is vastly expanded to various musical clips etc then that's a whole other ball game. :-)
"So how about we let the manufacturers set something reasonable "
From the article, it's clear that the manufactures preference is to allow customers to choose their own sound because "one size doesn't fit all" and (probably marketing) think different sounds for make, model, trim level and even year of manufacture (FFS!) should be different for every possible variation. With that in mind, do you really think the manufacturers are capable of coming up with a "reasonable" solution?
and make the car sound like it is reving hard and going like the clappers; feed this into the cabin interior (CK even included the roar of jets) as well as the outside speakers. Give the boy racers the feeling they're pushing the limits as they reach 25 in a 30 zone.
While we're at at, put in random noises of clattering and bottoming out when going over a speed bump too fast: encourage pedestrians to point and laugh as well as being warned that they in the presence of The Driving Morons.
Exactly this. I own an EV which replaced my diesel Volvo and I was genuinely looking forward to my 5am starts not waking up the entire neighborhood, but no, my EV is equipped with the pedestrian warning noise maker which is an intentionally attention grabbing sound as well as a reversing beeper. I mean, just wtf... I'm like a Tesco devlivery van.
There's seriously no need to intentionally introduce noise pollution when we've the chance to get rid of it. All of my neighbors have commented that it wakes them up, especially in windows open nights in ways that the banging box of diesel engine rattling and clattering didn't. Even more irritating is that the car has full collision avoidance and steers and brakes itself negating the warnings and the only time that tripped was when an airpod wearing jogger decided to run across my path with their nice noise cancelling headphones on.
Really the most disappointing thing about the EV ownership (I'm sure others may have more).
Ah, but if you lessen the brake force in antici... (say it!) ...pation, the restart/crank sound is unmistakably recognizable.
I'm currently on a work trip with a rental that has this "auto-stop", but also allows auto-stop to be turned off. I wish a previous car I owned that had auto-stop also had had an enable/disable setting.
"a "Boombox" feature that could allow drivers to "play preset or custom sounds through the PWS [pedestrian warning system] external speaker when the vehicle is parked or in motion"
Why on Earth "when the vehicle is parked"?
Ever since the portable transistor radio, there has been continued development of increasingly sophisticated ways to annoy bystanders.
Came to ask the same thing about the NHTSA's requirement for stationary vechicles.
But then I thought about it some more. I guess it's not all the time when stationary, just akin to the when the engine is running in a stationary ICE car.
I.e. it's "on" and therefore could start moving at any moment, rather than parked up, off and definitely not going anywhere.
I suspect that for "parked", they mean stopped, with the foot on the brake and the gear stick in Drive position. Not parked as in not planning to move, or even "parked" is in having a smooching session with the GF. This is a US oriented article so "parked" may be used differently to other English speaking speaking.
A single universal fixed sound is probably missing a trick. If we mandate that every EV sounds the same as every other EV how will we be able to tell if the best warning sound was selected in the first place? If there are a range of sounds in use then time will tell which are effective and which are not, just as time has done with various emergency vehicle warning sounds. There needs to be just enough commonality so that a warning sound is recognisable for what it is, but no more than that - for the time being.
Making noise at less than 30km/hr will only cause more noise pollution in residential areas. At that speed, an alert driver can always use their horn to make themselves known as necessary. Anyway, hybrids have been tooling around at low speeds on battery only for years, and there's been no problem up until now...
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