The Silence Of
Concerns continue to be
raised about risks associated with the silent
motion of electric automobiles.
In a recent report, Ivor
Hardhat, chairman of the International
Society for the Prevention of Accidents,
highlights the problem: Without an auditory
warning of a vehicle approaching, he
cautions, the risk of impact with
pedestrians and other road users is significantly
increased. Fortunately, he adds,
pilot schemes are now underway, worldwide,
to explore the most appropriate artificially
generated sounds for electric vehicles to emit.
Mercedes DeLorean, motoring
correspondent for Vogue Magazine,
explains in the July 2011 edition why such
research has become pressing: Some US
states and other transport authorities throughout
the world will shortly require electric
vehicles to be audible, she writes.
Initially, the recorded sounds of high
performance sports cars were favoured, Ms
DeLorean continues. However, Porsche,
Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, Bugatti and other
supercar manufacturers have been quick to
copyright the sound of their automobiles. They
have then marketed these as MP3s for hugely more
than the value of the recipient vehicles, so
other sounds have had to be urgently sought.
Ms DeLorean reveals that
soundtracks from Hollywood movies have proven
successful as alternatives: The
reverberating steps of an approaching T. Rex from
Jurassic Park and the musical notes
associated with the shark presence in Jaws
have worked well, she confirms, as
have the war cries of Zulu warriors from the film
of the same name.
she admits, has been the classic five tone
phrase from Close Encounters of the Third
Kind. When tested in the US, this caused the
ten per cent of Americans who believe they have
been abducted by aliens, to step directly into
the path of oncoming headlights.
Jersey Meadows, farming
correspondent for Elle Magazine, records
how trials in rural areas have shown that
familiar sounds of danger can enhance safety:
The noise of a cattle stampede has proven
effective in Argentina, and a sheep stampede
produced similar effects in Wales, she
Tests in Kabul and Bagdad
have employed the simulated sounds of AK47 fire
and IED detonations. Mustapha Barta, a
representative of the Kabul Street Sellers
Association, confirms in a recent BBC news
interview that traders in the Afghan capital have
been delighted by the outcome of the experiments:
When electric automobiles approach,
he explains, theres a great increase
in sales as panic-stricken passers-by dive
headlong into the nearest shops.
Voice warnings have also
been piloted. This has demonstrated that the
voice and words spoken must be carefully selected.
Speeches by Ed Miliband in the UK, and
Sarah Palin in the US, have been tried
unsuccessfully, writes Juan Vote, political
editor of Nuts Magazine. These
repelled certain groups, hence increasing their
safety. However, supporters of Mr Miliband and Ms
Palin tended to rush without thought towards the
source of the sound habitually following
their leader along any ill-considered road to
concludes, utterances by Rupert Murdoch, or
any employee of News International, have
been shown to encourage all pedestrians to
proceed with potentially life-saving suspicion,
distrust and caution.
Fret Capo, pop music editor
for Gardening Today Magazine, considers
in a recent edition the use of music for making
electric automobiles audible. Pop music was
piloted in San Francisco, he explains,
although it quickly became apparent that a
cacophony of uncoordinated anthems blasting from
every vehicle was hard on the ears of passers-by.
This problem was
resolved, he notes, by satellite
interconnection of onboard sound computers: A
random vehicle is now selected to supply the song.
Thereafter, vehicles within audible range of any
location are individually designated voice, lead
guitar, rhythm guitar, drums and relevant
orchestral parts. This technique has even been
used to relay live performances. The effect,
he continues, has been to convert the city
into a 24/7 concert venue. Its also
believed that many potential pedestrian
casualties have been averted due to people
choosing not to cross streets in favour of
remaining on one sidewalk, dancing.
Different genres have
been tried in other locations, writes Mr
Capo, with Country and Western in Nashville,
the Blues in New Orleans and Motown in Detroit.
Not to be outdone, the UK city of Liverpool now
resonates to the back catalogue of the Beatles.
Classical music is represented by Johann Strauss
in Vienna and Mozart in Salzburg.
In conclusion, Fret Capo
notes that Simon and Garfunkels rendition
of The Sound of Silence has become a
popular ironic choice for the noise of an
electric vehicle, as has the Beatles Long
and Winding Road. Currently most
popular, however, is a Bob Dylan song that seems
rather alarming in an automotive context: This
Wheels on Fire.