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Lotus Sound Synthesis Technology  (Source: Paultan.org)
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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300W? Really?
By SilentSin on 8/7/2008 2:42:04 PM , Rating: 2
Is 300 Watts really necessary here? All of my speakers in my car combined don't have that kind of power draw and those can get damn loud. Wouldn't this thing drain the battery of the hybrid or at least steal a good chunk of power from the alternator that would be used for recharging too?

How long before someone routes their car stereo through this and turns it into a gigantic external loudspeaker? Or better yet- a megaphone. Screw the horn or some sort of artificial engine noises, just yell at people on the street to get the f*#k out of the way, the smugmobile is coming through.




RE: 300W? Really?
By boogle on 8/7/2008 2:56:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Screw the horn or some sort of artificial engine noises, just yell at people on the street to get the f*#k out of the way, the smugmobile is coming through.


That would be pretty awesome. I live in the country near tourist attractions and come across people walking in the middle of a main road on blind corners every so often. Then when you slam on the brakes and go past they look at you like you've just tried to run them down. I once had a car come in the opposite direction so I had to move over to the left and the group of people started shouting! Never mind there's a grass verge and this is a main road with cars going 60mph...

But I digress. A boy racer will probably provide them with a darwin award in time.


RE: 300W? Really?
By FITCamaro on 8/7/2008 2:58:59 PM , Rating: 2
The power draw of something like this would be even more problematic on an ELECTRIC car.


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