New EVs In EU To Emit Artificial Noise For Pedestrian Safety


The European Union law that requires new electric vehicles to emit a noise for pedestrian safety goes into effect today. What does this for the entire EV industry?

The BBC News reports that a system called AVAS or Acoustic Vehicle Alert Systems will be installed in new models of both electric and hybrid cars going forward by July 2021. This new system is responsible for EVs to make a fake noise when reversing or traveling under 12 mph.

Theoretically, AVAS should prevent cyclists and pedestrians from being caught unaware by cars that are silent or near-silent. Though the noise isn't what you would consider a disturbance, it could definitely stop you from crossing the street, especially. The system is designed in order to combat the growing number of fatalities caused by less-than-attentive drivers.

Electric cars lack an internal combustion engine, which means they can be a lot quieter than gas-powered cars. While this lack of noise can be considered an upgrade for some people, it has the potential to be considered a threat to pedestrians and cyclists. More so for blind people or those who are partially sighted.

In a written submission to the British Parliament from November 2017, the charity Guide Dogs emphasized that hybrid and electric vehicles are 40 percent more prone to causing accidents in the road and injure a pedestrian.

It's up to the manufacturers to decide what kind of artificial noise will their AVAS emit. According to the EU's legislation, however, the sound should be somewhat similar to a traditional combustion engine, though definitely not louder. The noise should give the pedestrian an idea of the possible activity of the vehicle, for example, synchronizing with a vehicle's speed.

Some companies have already started conceptualizing their own artificial noise. In 2017, Nissan introduced a concept vehicle that "sings" as it drives, and Jaguar already announced the sound of the I-Pace.

It's not just the EU that's trying to mandate fake noise rules around electric cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US will require that all EVs should emit artificial noise by September 2020. The only difference is, the sound will start to emit for speeds slightly faster than 18.6 mph.

Electric vehicles are starting to be more widely adopted, which is a good thing, as we're all for technology. But will happen when a large group of EVs starts playing all sorts of noises? AVAS sure is looking out for our security, but this regulation needs some trial-and-error for sure.

Article by Business Times

Peter Brock