The sounds of music surround us from morning to night; everyone likes a different kind, type, or style. Each variety has not the same effect on everyone listening. The same is true for the intensity of sound; “some like it hot”, others prefer soothing tunes.
As in the variety of music, the types of other sounds also create different responses. The clatter of an old typewriter might drive some people “up the wall”, while those working in the offices of the past were oblivious of the noise.
The intensity of noise also generates strange conditions. A dripping kitchen tap at 20–25 decibels (dB) can be very disturbing, while the library has a ‘deafening silence’ at 30 dB. A decibel is a measure of sound originated by Alexander Graham Bell.
What all this has to do with our subject of alternative transportation, you may ask. Some people enjoy the sound of a sportscar – are YOU are of that inclination?-, others could care less how their or any vehicle sounds. One thing is sure: We all are facing alternative transportation, and with that the quiet electric vehicles of the future.
The noise of traffic is all around us, but the absence of traffic sounds may be “dangerous to your health”. The “sound” solution to a silent car making itself heard, is to originate some type of sound or noise to warn unwary pedestrians and animals of its approach.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working with automakers to determine what type of warning sound would be best suited to accomplish safety in urban traffic situations.
This writer believes that at some time in the future, pedestrians will not like to hear the “roar” of an engine, as we now know it; perhaps a pleasant synthetic sound can be “invented”?
One earlier, and quite logical suggestion was to imitate the sound of a horse at different speeds, to indicate the speed of an approaching electric vehicle. A horse walking, trotting, at a canter or galloping would convey a close approximation of the approaching EV. — BUT — Will pedestrians of the future remember that sound of even our –almost distant- past?
At this time, developers in various industries are working up fake sounds to which people respond in a positive way.
The sound of a car door closing is supposed to indicate the quality of that model; now, psychoacoustic engineers at major carmakers are “crafting” exhaust systems -with electronic enhancement- to have a quiet, silky-smooth engine at ‘Touring’ mode, while in ‘Sport’ mode the muffler lets the driver have a powerful-roaring sportscar engine - electronically.
“The sound enhancement system acts like a choir conductor, calling forth certain engine sounds to sing the loudest depending on the driving mode,” said Dave Leone, CTS executive chief engineer, Performance Luxury Vehicles. “We used our ears to tell us what sounded the best and programmed the system to listen for those tones. It is Cadillac’s Art and Science design philosophy applied to engine sound.”
You can find the sounds of progress in the most surprising ways and places.