Planning Sounds for Future Cars

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What sound do cars make?


Wrong. Not all of them do, not anymore. The latest electric cars are near-as-dammit silent when they’re doing under 20 miles per hour. Above that, and you might – might – hear a soft vvvvmmmmmmm.

This is more of a problem than you might think. As pedestrians, millions of us have ears tuned to the traditional sound of a moving car. We use that sixth sense every time we cross the street or walk through a parking lot.

If cars don’t go BRRRRRRM anymore, people are going to get hit by them more often. And even a slow-moving small electric car is large enough and heavy enough to cause some serious damage to fragile human bodies.

A group of UK scientists at Warwick University has been asked to tackle this problem, and come up with a selection of sounds that electric cars could make in the future, simply for safety’s sake. The sounds won’t be anything to do with the running of the engine, they will be entirely artificial. Like a simple looping MP3 file played through a speaker.

But what sounds? Should the cars of the future go EEEEEEEEE? Or BRRD BRRD BRRD DDT? Or BZZZZZIP? Or RRRRRRRRROOOOOOAAARRRRP?

Whatever sounds get chosen, let’s hope there are legal measures put in place to stop people customizing them. Custom ring-tones are bad enough in cell phones – can you imagine how annoying they’d be driving past you on every street? Being stuck behind a Lady Gaga song at a set of lights? Being knocked off your bike by a car singing classic Boston hits from the 70s?

Gives me shivers just thinking about it.

(Via BBC News)