After years of working to reduce road noise from vehicles, some car manufacturers may soon be adding noise.
Hybrid and electric vehicles run so quietly that they could pose problems for pedestrians and cyclists who are accustomed to listening out for the sound of vehicles approaching them.
The issue of low-noise vehicles is of particular concern for those with diminished hearing and also blind pedestrians.
Vehicle manufacturers are now researching ways of incorporating extra engine noise into hybrid and electric vehicles and exploring the kinds of sounds that could be used.
To limit noise pollution, engine sounds could be moderated through a ‘smart’ system which changed the level of sound emitted according to the existing background noise.
In noisy traffic conditions the hybrid/electric car would not emit extra noise, but in quieter road conditions its artificial engine noise would increase.
Researchers have also evaluated the kinds of sounds that could be used.
Given a choice of conventional car engine noise, a horn sound, hum, a whistle, a siren and white noise, study participants by far preferred conventional engine sounds.
This kind of research could also be applied to other low or no-noise vehicles which have caused injuries including bicycles, electric wheelchairs and motorised golf carts. How safe is your car?
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