A new EU-funded system designed to make electric vehicles emit low-level noise could significantly increase pedestrian safety, it has been claimed.
Dubbed eVADER - which stands for Electric Vehicle Alert for Detection and Emergency Response - the system has been produced in a collaboration which involved car makers PSA Peugeot Citroen, Renault and Nissan.
The eVADER system, which could shortly feature on production cars, comprises a camera built into the windscreen which can recognise pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles. Six speakers fitted to the car then emit a low-level sound to warn of the EV’s presence. The sound is around five decibels lower than the sound of a conventional engine.
Several sounds were used in trials, but sirens were quickly ruled out, says Nissan, because they were “found to be irritating, loud and, in some cases, emotionally distressing to other road users.”
The development of the system is partly in response to research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US, which found that electric vehicles were twice as likely to have an accident involving a pedestrian at low speeds, compared to a conventionally powered car.
The eVADER system is the result of a three-year study which began in 2011. A prototype version of the system was first shown to the public on a Nissan Leaf in December last year.
Manufacturers of electric vehicles will have to fit the eVADER system - or a similar alternative - to their products before 2019, when Europe-wide legislation comes into action, forcing electric vehicles to emit some sort of noise to warn pedestrians. In 2014, the European Parliament voted in favour of introducing the legislation.
Such laws already exist in the US, where all EVs must emit a noise at speeds below 18mph.
Nissan’s eVADER project leader David Quinn said: “Our objective has been to find an optimum balance between ensuring the cars are detectable, whilst retaining the reduction in noise pollution, which is one of the great benefits that our EVs offer.”
The next outing for the system could come as soon as next month, as Peugeot has announced it will present a new “dynamic and authentic” concept car at the show. As one of the lead partners in the project, it’s conceivable that the firm’s concept car could preview how the eVADER system could be incorporated onto a production car.
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