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Toyota Adds External Speakers To Warn Pedestrians 531

HockeyPuck writes "When I was a kid, playing with my matchbox cars, I used to say 'VROOOM VROOOM' to pretend my toy cars had big engines in them. Well it seems that Toyota has decided to do the same thing with the Prius by optionally installing, in Japan, external speakers to alert pedestrians of oncoming Priuses."
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Toyota Adds External Speakers To Warn Pedestrians

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  • Horn? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ruiner13 ( 527499 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:22PM (#33360726) Homepage
    Isn't that what the horn is for?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by santax ( 1541065 )
      No. Think about a (hehe) child (hell or even a Santax) playing between some cars. It is silent, I can hear nothing. I assume (since I know when I hear nothing there are no cars) I can safely cross the street. Only to Die by Prius. This really is one of the biggest disadvantages of these types of cars. You can't hear them, so your brain isn't in the alerted modus. If every car we have today would be silent you would see a great increase in traffic-deaths. So for me this worth applauding. Will safe some lives
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by oldspewey ( 1303305 )
        For most vehicles travelling at around 30km/h or more, unless the driver is standing on the gas pedal, most of the noise comes from the tires, not the engine.
        • Re:Horn? (Score:5, Funny)

          by Rakshasa Taisab ( 244699 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:33PM (#33360920) Homepage

          So you propose we introduce traffic laws that require cars to at all times be going above 30 km/h?

          You don't need much speed to kill a kid or dog, and it'll just feel like a small hump in the road when you start dragging the corpse under your car..

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by X0563511 ( 793323 )

            Well, interestingly that under 30 km/h, my fan and/or AC compressor is louder then the engine too. Those would still exist on electric cars too, you know.

        • Right. Which is why the study linked into the article states that the major increase in accidents with pedestrians and hybrids occurs at very low speeds, especially backing up, parking, and pulling out into traffic.

          Read the study, it's good stuff. I admit, I was sort of dubious of the threat posed by quieter cars, but the study is reasonably convincing that at least at slow speeds, it's a problem.

          • Re:Horn? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by yurtinus ( 1590157 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:27PM (#33361938)
            Indeed, read the study. I am even more dubious of the threat posed by quieter cars. The sample size of hybrid accidents with cyclists and pedestrians is 125. 125 incidents for HEVs versus 5440 similar incidents in ICE vehicles. The study controls are also *very* dubious. For ICE cars they analyze the Camry, Corolla, Civic, and Accord. For HEVs they compare with the Camry Corolla, Civic, Accord, *and* Prius - a car with a fairly novel design and different viewability than you find in the more "standard" sedans. I'd be very curious to see how the number line up without including the Prius, but seriously doubt there will be enough data to prove anything conclusive.

            So yes, I am extremely dubious about the threat of "quiet cars," thinking it is often being used as an excuse in place of an actual cause (say... driver or pedestrian inattention?). Sure, some tech-gadgets really do save lives, but too many new "safety and convenience features" on cars simply encourage lazy drivers.
        • They put low rolling resistance tires on a lot of hybrids to pad the MPG numbers. It totally compromises the handling and safety of the car but all they care about is the MPG they get to advertise. Those tires make almost no noise at all.
          • You know, I had those tires in my Civic. I had little handling issues with them in Colorado and they certainly made a fair amount of noise on the road. The only reason I didn't replace them with another set when they wore down was basically cost. I haven't noticed any difference in the handling in rotten conditions (admittedly, I've also moved to a snowier place), to be honest.

            Certainly, the average experience may differ. Do you have any studies that show that said tires result in a statistically signif

          • Re:Horn? (Score:4, Funny)

            by Bobfrankly1 ( 1043848 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:23PM (#33361848)

            Those tires make almost no noise at all.

            Do they make these tires in a wife-sized model?

      • Re:Horn? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by coolsnowmen ( 695297 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:39PM (#33361048)

        what? From the age I was allowed to cross the street, I was told to LOOK both ways, never to just listen for a car. There are many things that move that don't make loud engine noises (bikers, runners, segways, animals) AND fast moving cars. If a car is moving fast enough, you won't hear is coming [till it is too late], especially in a traffic filled area, there are always car sounds. you _ have _ to _ look.

        If you consider the quiet of the prius to be a disadvantage, then roll down the window and just scream the whole time.

        The only reason this would be useful for is blind people. The only [legally] blind person I've even known, only walked in neighborhoods (where cars should be going slow enough to yield to any pedestrian) and cross walks (that have an auditory signal). No where is car sound reliable enough to be a decision making factor.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by knarf ( 34928 )

        If every car we have today would be silent you would see a great increase in traffic-deaths.

        No, if every car on the road was as silent as electric cars are people would not learn to rely on their hearing to check for the presence of cars. They would look for them instead, just like you're supposed to do now but often ignore 'because you don't hear any cars coming'.

    • by bsDaemon ( 87307 )

      What if they have a heart attack, die, don't land on the horn, and are speeding out of control in electric silence?

      • Re:Horn? (Score:4, Funny)

        by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:39PM (#33361050) Journal

        Then they won't mind the dent you leave in the hood.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Abstrackt ( 609015 )

        What if they have a heart attack, die, don't land on the horn, and are speeding out of control in electric silence?

        Assuming they push the pedal to the floor during the heart attack and rigor mortis kicks in immediately, the gas engine would kick in and produce noise. Otherwise, their leg muscles would relax once they die making it near impossible for them to push the gas pedal.

    • No. Unless you routinely honk your horn while coming around blind corners (note: this is actually required by law in most states but nobody does it).
    • Isn't that what the horn is for?

      That's to lean on with full might at the last minute while applying screeching brakes attempting to kill the pedestrian of regular heart attack, while claiming full innocence. Lawyerly weaponry. Especially if you upgraded to those trucklike horns that make the entire neighborhood know you just killed a another lady with the heart attack braking technique.

    • by MouseR ( 3264 )

      I was nearly taken out by an effin hybrid car once (a Ford Escape) running under battery. There's no way to hear those coming in a city noise background.

      For context, I was walking in an underground parkway, turning a corner on my way to the elevator shaft.

  • I always found that one of the great things about the Prius was how quite it was, but I guess with as many idiots out there not paying attention a little audio warning is needed. Now all we have to do is hope the RIAA doesn't have a copyright on the noise...
    • Re:What a shame (Score:5, Informative)

      by Daniel_Staal ( 609844 ) <> on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:25PM (#33360782)

      Also, it reminds me of the old rules requiring someone to walk ahead of automobiles with a bell, so you wouldn't scare the horses...

      We have a car with an advantage (that it is silent at low speeds), and we cripple it because we aren't used to it.

      • Re:What a shame (Score:4, Interesting)

        by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:11PM (#33361638) Homepage

        To be fair, Toyota is crippling it in one market, optionally, by the owner's choice. That's very different than a state requirement that must be met.

        Of course, I've always wanted an option that wasn't quite horn, but wasn't just sitting-politely-waiting either. Keep the horn for the "Oh God We're All Going To Die" moments, and have some sort of sub-horn for "The light turned green: stop texting and drive" or "No really, we're in a right-turn-on-red state."

        If we could hook the outside speaker up to a microphone on the dashboard, I'd be happy. Well, I'd be angry, and there would be a string of expletives that came out of it. But it would be satisfying.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        We "cripple" it because it isn't safe. Just like spooking the horses also wasn't safe when they were populating the roads. Until people learn that cars are no longer noisy, I would except nothing less than "crippling".

    • Yeah, and those careless idiots think they got a right to drive too... Not really much choice here.

    • While I agree that adding noise to a car is counter-intuitive, I know that at least one group, representing those who are blind, has complained about the lack of audio cues of an oncoming hybrid vehicle. This was part of a news program that I was watching at least six years ago. It's not just idiots who are not paying attention that are complaining. There are others, with more legitimate complaints, who are complaining as well.
      • And for those with legitimate complaints, such as the blind, I can sympathize. I just find it really hard to believe that adding more noise to a car is really the best solution.
      • I daresay the idiots not paying attention are the drivers - because if they were, they wouldn't be mowing down passengers [by accident].
    • you could fix the noise by using one of those Military Pain guns instead. That should get their attention.

    • I always found that one of the great things about the Prius was how quite it was, but I guess with as many idiots out there not paying attention a little audio warning is needed.

      The real question is this: which idiots are you referring to - the drivers or the pedestrians?

  • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:23PM (#33360746)
    "ATTENTION PEDESTRIANS! This vehicle is accelerating uncontrollably while an elderly man panics in the drivers seat! Please make way!"
  • by Ossifer ( 703813 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:25PM (#33360772)
    They need to add the sounds of hooves and the cracking of whips too, for those of us not used to these newfangled horseless carriages...
  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:25PM (#33360780) Homepage

    Just when you think quiet electric cars are going to help diminish the noise pollution problem, they go and do this.

    • Because some sound alert is needed. Not everyone can see, out of those people that can see, not everyone can see a car clearly from far enough.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        They're loud enough. The road noise is clearly audible frat 25 yards.

        Maybe cars should be forced to vibrate the ground so Tommy doesn't get hit on the way to the pinball palace?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mark-t ( 151149 )
        And what do these people do to avoid people on bicycles, while not as likely to be fatal as a collision involving an automobile, a collision involving a bike and pedestrian can still very easily result in a serious injury requiring hospitalization.
        • > And what do these people do to avoid people on bicycles...

          Nothing. Bicycles are absolutely, totally harmless.

        • The bicyclist is supposed to give a... wait for it now... audible cue when approaching a pedestrian or passing another cyclist. As in, ringing a bell or shouting "passing on the left." Welcome to reality -- you seem new here.
      • Because some sound alert is needed. Not everyone can see, out of those people that can see, not everyone can see a car clearly from far enough.

        More importantly not everyone can drive. my answer is more drastic though - revoke driving privileges from those who can't pass a yearly competence test that includes dealing with in-car and roadside distractions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MrEricSir ( 398214 )

      Noise pollution is better than pedestrian carnage pollution.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid ( 135745 )

        Except there isn't a problem.

        This is a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.

        Like trying to solve the Bermuda Triangle Mystery when in fact there is no actual mystery.

    • by pspahn ( 1175617 )
      Considering everyone walks around with white headphones in their ears, or is yapping on a phone, this makes a lot of sense. People are not attentive to the world around them anymore.
  • Finally (Score:3, Informative)

    by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:29PM (#33360850)
    Automobiles are 508 compliant!
  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:30PM (#33360862)
    There was a campaign a while ago where people could suggest advertisement plots for some car brands. Some guy sent something like this in:

    Scene: Blind 9 year old girl crossing the street.

    Camera alternates between showing the closeup of the girl and showing the empty road.

    Screen goes black and in a short while there is a loud noise as if someone was hit by a car.

    The following appears on screen: "New Audi type foo. Very fast. Very quiet."

    The guy didn't hear back about his plot suggestion for some reason.
  • The speakers go "Ring-dingy-dingy", right?. But, no, I guess that woulf be for Civics.

  • Has anyone got a link to a story of a pedestrian being hit by a hybrid car because they didn't hear it?

  • by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:35PM (#33360966)

    Pick your Engine sound:

    1) Default Camcord
    2) Italian Sports Car
    3) Half ton Truck
    4) Harley Davidson Motorcycle
    5) Tank
    6) Horse and Buggy
    7) Monty Python
    8) Ice Cream Truck
    9) VW anything
    10) F1
    11) Flubber

  • Are they going to require these for bicycles as well then?

    Bicycles might not weigh as much as a car, and so might not be as likely to kill, but they can sure as heck easily hospitalize someone who steps in front of a moving one.

    • A Harley motorcycle
    • Engine from one of those big tractor trailers
    • JetSki
    • The space car/briefcase from the Jetsons cartoon
    • The roadrunner cartoon character
    • Speede Gonzales (Mexican mouse cartoon character)
    • The Jupiter 2 spacecraft (Lost in Space)
    • Engine noise from Star Trek
    • Horses galloping with a whip crack
  • back in the 1980's, I played a superhero who rode an electric motorcycle (it being all futuristic) and I had speakers with "real harley sound" effects which I could turn on and off.

  • No more deadly silent [] Prius sneak attacks []?

    Looks like the resale on my older model might improve!

  • there is a provision that all the cars external speakers be allowed to play campaign advertisements for the Republicans and Democrats, or commercials targeted at the upcoming pedestrians who have already been RFID tagged.

  • by Kitkoan ( 1719118 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:38PM (#33361034)
    This was already noted by Nissan a while back when they decided to make their next electric cars sound like Blade Runner. [] Its a safety feature to make sure people like the blind can hear them so they don't walk right into a quiet electric car just as it's turning a corner at the lights.
  • This would be the coolest thing ever, if instead of "vroom vroom" noises, it played the lyrics to Madness' Driving in My Car read out by a bad Japanese speech synthesizer.

    I've been driving in my car, it's not quite a Jaguar
    I bought it in Primrose Hill from a bloke from Brazil
    It was made in '59 in a factory by the Tyne...

  • So the real reason that cars of the future make that "bloop-bloop-bloop-bloop" sound as they go along is because of speakers?
  • by aapold ( 753705 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:46PM (#33361200) Homepage Journal
    A playing card in the rims could do that for a lot less, and I'll wager the drag would cost less than the energy drain of the speaker system too....
  • This doesn't surprise me in a country where their cars continually ding a bell when you hit 100 k/mh (62mph) hope they don't bother offering the option here.

  • I'll bet it says
    Uzendayo kiero translation FUCK OFF!!!
  • by beschra ( 1424727 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:52PM (#33361310)
    Ringtones for your hybrid car. Downloadable for 99 cents.
  • Nissan Leaf (Score:3, Informative)

    by Flammon ( 4726 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:53PM (#33361334) Homepage Journal
    Here's what the Nissan Leaf sounds like: []
  • I hope they have a record your own warning sound option. Then, I can't wait to hear a mashup of the various sounds and saying people configure for their cars. Some I'd expect to hear:
    • Get outta da road!
    • Iiiiiiidiot!
    • Doh!
    • 50 points for the slow one!
    • I need a new bumper.
    • Who needs breaks when you have pedestrians?
    • Stupid [BLEEP]!
    • This is way better than dodgeball!

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."