backtop


Print 91 comment(s) - last by WW102.. on Jun 29 at 11:30 AM


The 2011 Nissan Leaf EV  (Source: The New York Times)
Critics like the basic premise, but say it was poorly executed

After a couple of years of debate about how to best handle the risk that silent electric vehicles pose to blind pedestrians, the 2011 Nissan Leaf EV offered up a creative solution -- artificial noises emitted while driving.  You might guess that blind rights advocates would be happy.

That guess would be incorrect, though.  The National Federation of the Blind said that while including an alert was a step in the right direction, the system was full of flaws.  Their biggest problem was with the fact that the driver could disable the alert.  States the group, "[We are] disappointed that the driver is permitted to turn off the sound.  [This] in effect, allows drivers to deactivate this important safety feature and thereby endanger pedestrians, especially those who are blind."

Chris Danielsen, a spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind complains, "The biggest thing with us is that we don’t think the driver should be able to switch the sound off."

When enabled, the group is okay with the standard driving warning sound, which they say is "sufficient to alert pedestrians".  However, they are also displeased with the reverse warning sound, which unlike the forward noise is not continuous.  They comment, "Intermittent sound is not as effective as a continuous sound."

Another complaint they have is that no warning sounds are emitted when the vehicle is idling.

The backup noises sounds somewhat like a ringing bell or submarine sonar, while the forward noise sounds somewhat like a jet tanking off (a whistle) -- or as  Mark Perry, the director for product planning at Nissan Americas puts it, "You know that show with David Hasselhoff, Knight Rider? The forward sound reminds me of what KITT sounded like."

The sounds are generate by a synthesizer under the hood and should not disturb passengers within the cockpit, thanks to insulating layers.  The sounds measure at 2.5 kHz at the high end of the spectrum to 600 Hz at the bottom.

Nissan recruited high profile help to develop the system, including, the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, acoustic psychology experts from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a Hollywood sound design studio that was not identified.  Interestingly, The National Federation of the Blind -- the organization that is offering up the current criticism -- also helped provide design input for the system.

Perry defends the system against the recent criticism, stating, "They’re entitled to their opinions on the sounds turning off and what the sounds should be. The on-off switch by default is in the on position, and the driver has to make a decision each time to turn it off. The switch is there to balance the needs of drivers and pedestrians, though we think most owners will leave the system on because they can’t hear the sounds inside the car."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and legislators in Congress are currently working on legislation which would mandate noisemakers in electric vehicles.  There are no such current regulations; the Nissan system was implemented merely in good faith.


Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Bottom line
By morphologia on 6/21/2010 2:51:16 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with others in that the only solution to the problem is for motorists to stop being such @$$-clowns. The fact that someone can hop into a 1.5 ton maneuverable projectile and travel upwards of 60 MPH all while paying little or no attention to what they are doing is

JUST

PLAIN

SICK.

All you people who text whilst driving...FYI, every time I see one of you it takes a supreme effort to resist ramming you off the road. Blind pedestrians are only one of your many potential victims, and none of them would have anywhere near as much to worry about if only motorists were the least bit competent and considerate.




RE: Bottom line
By keegssj on 6/21/2010 4:05:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
All you people who text whilst driving...FYI, every time I see one of you it takes a supreme effort to resist ramming you off the road.

I passed someone texting on the highway the other day. Cell Phone propped up on the top of his steering wheel. He had no idea that I was next to him. I thought about honking at him, but thought better of it because he probably would have swerved into me.


RE: Bottom line
By WW102 on 6/21/2010 8:12:15 PM , Rating: 2
So he was watching his phone and you were watching him?


RE: Bottom line
By HostileEffect on 6/21/2010 11:24:46 PM , Rating: 2
There is a gesture that involves the hand and face but I seem to have forgot what it is...


RE: Bottom line
By WW102 on 6/29/2010 11:30:44 AM , Rating: 2
My point is, doesnt really matter if your looking at your phone or looking at the person looking at their phone. Waiting for someone to come in and say I was looking at the guy who was looking at the guy looking at his phone.


RE: Bottom line
By afkrotch on 6/21/2010 8:00:48 PM , Rating: 2
The reverse is also true. Stupid pedestrians trying to read a book, text, play games, adjust their mp3 players, etc while not paying attention to where they are going. Like, into a busy motorway where 1.5 ton maneuverable projectiles travel upwards of 60 mph.


"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki