Tuesday, April 10, 2012

From Supercars to Road Haulage Trucks, Electric Vehicles Need to Make a Noise

Trials Under Way in the Name of Safety
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – Any regular reader knows the Handy Shipping Guide likes to keep abreast of any developments in the field of electric vehicles pertaining particularly to freight trucks and other road haulage vehicles. One of the problems faced by companies marketing such environmentally friendly products is the valid criticism, particularly from pressure groups representing those with impaired sight, that the new vehicles are simply too quiet for safety.

Even all sizeable electric trucks, and these are now in practical use to 7.5 tonnes and beyond, simply do not produce enough tyre noise to be deemed safe, particularly in an already noisy urban environment, and thus the race is on to develop artificial sounds which alert pedestrians to the presence of a car or lorry heading their way.

The fun part of this of course is that as the technology develops consumers will have the capacity to customise their vehicle sound just as they now do with ring tones etc. and so it will no doubt soon be necessary to legislate to avoid some of the more extreme sounds users may choose to produce. Existing regulations regarding decibel levels will obviously take care of some of the problem but as an example of how things are progressing here are two videos demonstrating the sort of things envisaged at present.

The first video, viewable HERE, is from the Audi stable. The R8 e-tron, is an all electric version of Audi’s R8 supercar unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The company ha obviously taken the problem very seriously and even has its own acoustics department which, as the video shows, has employed the services of a bona fide composer whilst investing in bespoke hard and software.

The second film HERE is from the New Scientist and demonstrates an ad hoc approach obviously utilising a lower budget but no less intense for that. The subject might seem insignificant at present but with more and more companies trialling electric vehicles, particularly the smaller sized delivery vans, the spectre of regular accidents caused by inattention on the part of pedestrians is a factor that may become more worrisome as EV fleet sizes expand.

Main Photo: Tyre noise was probably sufficient for this 1899 Electric Daimler Mail Van.