GM Works on EV, Hybrid Sound Alert for the Blind
Simply put, the humming or buzzing of the electric vehicle is far less distinguishable than the roar of a diesel or petrol engine and, without any other way of warning the blind of the coming traffic, these types of vehicles may turn into real hazards.
That is why GM, together with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) are currently researching what level of noise would be the best to alert the blind, as well as other pedestrians, to the presence of near silent-running cars.
"We are confident electric vehicles can produce a safe and acceptable level of sound to alert blind pedestrians to their presence,” John Pare, NFB executive director of strategic initiatives said in a release.
“We look forward to working with Chevrolet and GM to identify an appropriate sound that will alert pedestrians in the most effective and least disruptive way possible.”
“We have significant background in the area of pedestrian alerts dating to our work on our first electric car, the EV1,” Andrew Farah, Volt chief engineer added. “The most important thing is to listen to the people who will interact with these vehicles in everyday life.”
So far, GM set up a test where a pre-production Chevrolet Volt's pedestrian warning alert underwent scrutiny. NFB members evaluated the alert from the front, sides and rear of the car. The results of the test were not made public.
“The National Federation of the Blind appreciates the opportunity to work with General Motors on this problem,” Marc Maurer, NFB president concluded.
“We urge all automobile manufacturers to work with the blind in designing vehicle sounds to alert us to the approach, speed and direction of vehicles so that both drivers and pedestrians can safely use America’s roadways.”