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Lotus Sound Synthesis Technology  (Source:
Device makes the Prius sound like a Lamborghini

Electric vehicles are hot right now and for the most part people see them as great for the environment and a welcome addition to the roads around the country. However, there is a down side to the electric vehicle -- other than a short range -- and that is that they make virtually no noise.

To many drivers, a silent car is a good thing and if electric cars take over the roads in the decades to come, the thought of traffic jam in near silence is much better than the loud idling and sound of combustion we get today. However, for those who are blind and for bicyclists, electric cars can be dangerous.

The Toyota Prius is a good example; when it travels at low speeds and runs on battery power without the combustion engine, it is virtually silent. Without being able to hear an electric car, the visually impaired could step out in front of the vehicle without knowing it was even there.

Congress thinks that the low noise levels of electric cars could be such of a hazard that a bill was introduced to require a minimum sound level on all cars produced for America.

If the bill is made into law, Lotus stands to make a bundle on new technology that it has been demonstrating to address the specific issue of noise -- or lack thereof -- on electric and hybrid vehicles. The technology is called Lotus Sound Synthesis and in essence it is nothing more than a sound system to make sounds pedestrians can hear. Lotus connected the system to a stock Toyota Prius to demonstrate the technology.

The system consists of a 300-watt speaker, a throttle position sensor, amplifier, and synthesis controller. The system would produce engine sounds that would rise and fall -- just like the sounds of a combustion engine -- during acceleration. Lotus says that when the combustion engine kicks in, the speaker system automatically turns off. The speaker itself is a waterproof unit mounted near the cars radiator and according to Lotus the driver hears virtually no sound. The sound could reportedly be made to mimic various engines.

Wired quotes Mike Kimberly, CEO of Group Lotus saying, "We hope that legislators introduce minimum noise requirements for vehicles to encourage the adoption of technologies, such as ours, which will ultimately increase pedestrian safety."

The Toyota Prius isn’t the only car that could benefit from Lotus' system. Honda is bringing the Insight back in 2010 and Tesla has its Roadster on the streets now as well.

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Bubble wrap!
By chmilz on 8/7/2008 2:30:06 PM , Rating: 5
Maybe we should pass laws to force all pedestrians to wear helmets and bubble-wrap, and make shoes so large people can't trip or fall, and coat every conceivable surface with NERF.

Or maybe people should be accountable for their actions and pay attention to what's going on around them.


RE: Bubble wrap!
By teldar on 8/7/2008 2:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
Now that's just being crazy. You know the american way is to not hold people responsible for their own actions. Where do you get off thinking people should face consequences of being stupid?


On another note....
Here manufacturers are trying to improve mileage and now they're going to be told they have to add 100 lbs OF JUNK! to the weight of the vehicle sapping efficiency even further! I hope like hell this doesn't pass as it's the stupidest thing I have heard of in relation to vehicle safety. basturds

RE: Bubble wrap!
By TheDoc9 on 8/7/2008 4:17:48 PM , Rating: 3
Plus it's 300 watts which is much more powerful than most car audio systems. The energy sapped will undoubtedly require bigger batteries and electric engines.

RE: Bubble wrap!
By Adonlude on 8/7/2008 7:39:45 PM , Rating: 3
I'ts unfortunate that blind people are blind, it really is, but I don't see how thats MY problem. I am not going to pay for my car to have a freaken 300W sound system for the blind. If I decide to buy a 300W sound system for my car it is going to be inside and it is going to be for me.

Whats next, am I going to be forced to pay more money to live in this country becuase I am smarter than stupid people? OH wait, I already pay a higher percentage of a higer salary for being smart and hard working enough to have a good job.

Society loves to gang up on the fit/strong to suport the unfit/weak.

RE: Bubble wrap!
By ultimaone on 8/7/2008 2:47:51 PM , Rating: 2
so long as the law states that the pedestrian always has the right of way, then ppl will just continue to step out without looking, cause the 2000 lb car is supposed to stop on a dime.....

RE: Bubble wrap!
By FITCamaro on 8/7/2008 2:56:34 PM , Rating: 2
Pedestrians only have right of way all the time in some states. In Florida if you walk out into the middle of the street, you don't have the right of way. I know in Taxachussetts you do.

RE: Bubble wrap!
By isorfir on 8/7/2008 3:26:54 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure in Michigan they do not have the right of way if it's not a crosswalk. A few years back in my town a blind man was struck and killed by a car, but the driver was not found to be liable since the gentleman was trying to cross a 5 lane highway sans crosswalk.

RE: Bubble wrap!
By foxtrot9 on 8/7/2008 3:56:05 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I would love to see someone in NY try that one out and see what happens

RE: Bubble wrap!
By chiadog on 8/7/2008 3:20:45 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately that there are tons (;)) more cars/trucks double that weight roaming around the street than 2000 pounders.

RE: Bubble wrap!
By Smartless on 8/7/2008 2:50:50 PM , Rating: 2
Listen.. here that?... It's the sound of lawyers crying. YES! haha.

What's also ironic is how noise pollution and sound deafening was a large issue for awhile. Well mostly on freeways but here we are again over-designing to fit the needs of the few.

RE: Bubble wrap!
By marsbound2024 on 8/7/2008 3:06:55 PM , Rating: 2
There's a Snapple Antioxidant Water commercial that shows a world like that. Everything is bubblewrapped.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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