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Transportation Technology

Nissan Gives Electric Cars Blade Runner Audio Effect 553

mateuscb writes "A campaign backed by automakers and some lawmakers to make electric or hybrid cars noisier in a bid to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists has taken a strange, Blade Runner-type twist. Nissan sound engineers have announced that the Leaf electric car set for release next year will emit a 'beautiful and futuristic' noise similar to the sound of flying cars — or 'spinners' — that buzz around 2019 Los Angeles in Ridley Scott's dystopian thriller based on a Philip K. Dick science fiction novel."
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Nissan Gives Electric Cars 'Blade Runner' Audio Effect

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  • Re:Siren Noise (Score:3, Informative)

    by bheekling ( 976077 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @04:46PM (#29478565)
    The Doppler Effect [] should take care of that for you. No matter what kind of sound is made, it's affected by the Doppler Effect.
  • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

    by prof187 ( 235849 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @04:46PM (#29478567) Homepage

    According to the article, the sound is supposed to turn off after the car reaches 12 mph because at that point they say the tire noise is enough to let you be able to hear it adequately.

  • Example of the sound (Score:4, Informative)

    by sebaseba ( 1617571 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @05:01PM (#29478693) Homepage
    An example of the sound is apparently this one []. Not sure tho', found on an another site.
  • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

    by paeanblack ( 191171 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @05:30PM (#29478889)

    But at TFS says, it's a 'safety feature', I'd imagine you could 'turn it off' about as easily as the airbags or that thing that beeps when you're in reverse, and that's not without messing with wiring.

    These proposals are just as idiotic.

    It's the drivers' responsibility to maintain control of their vehicles and be cognizant of sudden dangers in the street. Any attempts delegate this responsibility onto pedestrians, wildlife, and falling trees are completely retarded.

  • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animaether ( 411575 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @05:59PM (#29479117) Journal

    Forget the RIAA... ASCAP will be charging car owners the performance fee.

    Didn't some ASCAP-alike company try that with ringtones some time ago? Oh wait.. that -was- ASCAP. []

  • Re:But... (Score:2, Informative)

    by dotgain ( 630123 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @06:08PM (#29479179) Homepage Journal
    I agree completely, and enclosed the term 'safety feature' in quotes primarily to imply my cringing as I typed it.
  • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Knuckles ( 8964 ) <> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @06:19PM (#29479247)

    Too late. This is already part of Shai Agassi's plan [] according to an interview with him that I read somewhere (it's not mentioned in the linked article; I seem to remember the trademark may be "drive sounds".)

  • Re:But... (Score:4, Informative)

    by xenophrak ( 457095 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @06:30PM (#29479309)
  • Re:But... (Score:2, Informative)

    by rantingkitten ( 938138 ) <kitten&mirrorshades,org> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @07:50PM (#29479769) Homepage
    Wildlife and falling trees don't know what cars are. People do. I don't care that the law says pedestrians have the right of way -- the laws of physics override the laws of man, and physics tells us that a 150 fleshbag is not going to win against a three-ton piece of steel going 40mph. In other words, when your mother taught you don't step out into traffic she was right.

    To me it is absolutely the responsibility of the pedestrian to be aware of cars and not walk out into the street hoping everyone will notice or be able to stop in time. Putting the onus on the driver to be able to hit the anchors and come to a dead stop in twenty feet just because some asshole saunterd out into the road because "the law" says he's allowed is absolutely ridiculous.

    So please, enlighten us as to why you think the pedestrian shouldn't have any responsibility. I say it's the pedestrian's job to do that other thing our mothers taught us: Look both ways before crossing the street, and if cars are coming, don't walk until they're gone. It's not my job as a driver to keep idiots safe.
  • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Trahloc ( 842734 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:12PM (#29479867) Homepage
    Umm no. I don't know about you but I can distinguish the difference between a car slowing down and one gunning it even if I'm blasting music over headphones. How often do you see a pedestrian look straight at you when their about to get the walk signal to make sure your not going to plow right over them, a blind person can't do that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:36PM (#29479971)
    When the light rail was first installed in san jose, they had the same problem - too quiet. So they installed a recording of a bell -ding ding ding ding that rang as long as the trian was going slow enough.
  • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

    by arb phd slp ( 1144717 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:06PM (#29480123) Homepage Journal

    I'm willing to bet the wheels on pavement are enough of a sound for someone who is constantly using hearing to find out what is going on around them.

    I had the experience of being sneaked up on by a Prius on in a narrow street last year. The ground was very clean (none of the loose salt/sand that is often on the roads in the northeast) and its gas engine must have been off-- that vehicle was absolutely silent. I gained an appreciation for the issue of lack of vehicle noise that day. Perhaps at 60mph tires make a noise, but at the low speeds on streets they aren't always discernible.

  • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

    by AngryNick ( 891056 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @10:23PM (#29480459) Homepage Journal
    The first part of the Blade Runner trailer [] contains the "spinner" whooshing sound without the theme music. Imagining a future with traffic jams of bees make me want to invest in noise canceling technology.
  • boots're made for (Score:4, Informative)

    by Triv ( 181010 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @11:57PM (#29480855) Journal

    Your eyes aren't everything - I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm much faster to react to something I hear over something I see.

    I live in a fairly large city in the northeast US. I walk a lot, but not like true urban walking - it's a mile and a half to the train station, and I walk it twice a day outside of light groceries and the like. I grew up walking in NYC and its suburbs, and I've been lucky enough to never actually need a driver's license. My feet do me just fine for most things.

    So believe me when I say that the idea of a truly silent car terrifies me. I look both ways when I cross the street, I don't habitually jaywalk, I follow street signs and stay on the curb until the light changes, but if all that fails or if a driver isn't paying the same kind of attention I am to the road (he has a steel cage around him; I don't) I rely on my ears. I've had my ass saved on more than one occasion by hearing a car swinging around a corner towards me that I couldn't see yet.

    There are a lot of stupid drivers on the road. There are also a lot of careless or over-confident pedestrians. But I can't see this as a bad thing - my eyes might keep me from walking out into the middle of traffic, but my ears are what get me to step back quickly onto the curb because somebody in a car isn't being careful.

  • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

    by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @12:11AM (#29480899) Homepage Journal

    Oh great. Ring^W Car-tones you can download, just what we needed. This is going to be annoying ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 20, 2009 @12:13AM (#29480903)

    Its amazing people wait till a corporation patents something that is obvious to make oneself and say this is the best thing since sliced bread.

    As a citizen of Boulder, CO USA which has a high number of bicycles and silent hybrids including electrics - given the larger demographic area we have enough problems with bicycle/pedestrian accidents to spawn a cottage industry for lawyers.

    Its a sign of autumn to see the leaves turn and have the newbie students move in. Its a time to remember to slam the breaks on bicyclists who whiz by "silently" on the left/right/behind/infront often at dusk without reflectors, wearing dark clothing and without reflectors.

    My point is If we can't get noise makers on bicycles I don't see it to happen on electric vehicles. Basic safety systems are needed on Bicycles but are missing despite their higher rate of probability have a serious accident with pedestrians. Ever seen someone whose cheek got "hooked" on a handbrake when they were runover? It was like the seen in the Dark Night - Why so Serious Son?

    Why not a $4 squirrel cage fan thats LOUD and is attached to main or the aux systems?
    Why not a playing card in the spokes or a bell?
    Why the needless reinvention?


  • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

    by paeanblack ( 191171 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @12:56AM (#29481049)

    Do pedestrians really always have the right of way in the US?

    There are no national traffic enforcement laws in the US; each individual state sets their own. The national government only provides financial incentives for the states' laws to meet certain criteria.

    Pedestrian right-of-way laws vary considerably across the country and are a dissonant mix of historic inertia and regional practicality. In Boston or New Orleans, jaywalking is common and pedestrians routinely cross streets where and when they choose. The local courts will invariably find the driver at fault. In Washington DC or New York, jaywalking laws are actually enforced. In Salt Lake City or San Diego, jaywalking is extremely rare and drivers are given more leniency in the courts.

    A few things are fairly universal:
    -For the most part, pedestrians have the absolute right-of-way, anytime and anywhere.
    -If you hit somebody near a school, a playground, or a school bus, you will always be at fault, under the assumption that you were driving too fast to stop for a child.
    -If the pedestrian is actually trying to be hit (i.e. suicide attempt/insurance fraud...not just crossing recklessly), the driver is generally not liable.
    -Striking a pedestrian on a limited access highway where they are not allowed will usually result in both parties being held responsible.

    As a foreigner driving in the US, don't make any assumptions about pedestrian rights-of-way until you are familiar with the local laws.

  • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jabithew ( 1340853 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @09:59AM (#29482577)

    In England we have no jaywalking offence, so if someone crosses the road far enough ahead of you for you to stop, then it is your responsibility not to hit them. Most of our town centre roads are capped at 30mph (20mph around schools), so it's basically the driver's problem.

    Pedestrians have priority at pedestrian crossings when the signals are in their favour, zebra crossings at all times, and at road junctions without crossings if you start crossing before the car turns (this is specifically mentioned in the highway code).

    The exception to this is motorways, where pedestrians aren't allowed at all. This is normally obvious to even the most fatally stupid of Englishmen.

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