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The Silent Treatment
Hybrid vehicles are definitely creating a buzz in the auto industry, but it's their lack of noise on the road that concerns many safety experts. Unlike vehicles with traditional motors that can be heard from a city block away, the low hum of these new cars is often undetected until it has already passed.
Advocates for the blind have urged politicians to regulate hybrids and there are currently 10 states that have laws pending legislation. In the mean time, engineers are gearing up to provide a voice for hybrids. A California company called Enhanced Vehicle Acoustics has created a device called the Pedestrian Awareness Noise-Emitting Device and Application, or PANDA, which emits customized sound through specially designed speakers located behind a car's fender and inside its wheel well.
"There's a real cool opportunity here for car companies to attach a specific sound to their car for audio branding," says Brook Reeder, an engineer with Enhanced Vehicle Acoustics. "It's a great marketing idea." The new hybrid audio will likely be a mix of traditional motor sounds mixed with subtle touches like chiming bells or choral singers, but the engineers say the opportunities are endless. (Good idea, we suppose...but if you're deaf and a hybrid sneaks up behind you? Then what? Entrepreneurs, this may be your chance!)
What soundtrack would you want people to hear when you come roaring down the block? Would you go with the "wa wa" guitar licks from the "Shaft" soundtrack? How about a constant chorus of "Halleluia"? [Forbes]