Hear’s a hy­brid safety so­lu­tion

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

ANY­ONE who has driven a hy­brid car knows the po­ten­tial dan­gers of car parks. It has noth­ing to do with the cars them­selves, but their low-speed elec­tric op­er­a­tion and a to­tal lack of noise. Some­thing like a Honda Civic hy­brid (right) has none of the start-up sounds most peo­ple ex­pect from a car, and there is no revving as you get mov­ing. So there is now warn­ing when a hy­brid is mov­ing, and that can come as a shock for some­one push­ing a trol­ley into a line of parked cars at the su­per­mar­ket. I have had a cou­ple of near misses with peo­ple who have stepped straight into the path of a hy­brid car, and I’ve seen other driv­ers forced to swerve around some­one who had no idea they were com­ing. But Lo­tus En­gi­neer­ing has a po­ten­tial so­lu­tion: an ar­ti­fi­cial nose gen­er­a­tor un­der the name Safe and Sound. Lo­tus is demon­strat­ing the sys­tem on a stan­dard Toy­ota Prius, and says it re­tains its en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious de­sign with­out the po­ten­tial risk to pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists. It is part of a suite of ac­tive noise tech­nolo­gies that in­cludes Ac­tive Road Noise Can­cel­la­tion, to make car cab­ins qui­eter. The Safe and Sound sys­tem uses con­ven­tional en­gine noise played through a wa­ter­proof loud­speaker along­side the ra­di­a­tor. It only op­er­ates when the hy­brid is run­ning as an elec­tric ve­hi­cle. ‘‘Blind and par­tially sighted peo­ple use the noise of on­com­ing traf­fic as a cue for when it is safe to cross a road. If a quiet hy­brid elec­tric ve­hi­cle is ap­proach­ing they will no longer have this cue and are im­me­di­ately put at risk,’’ a guide dog spokesman says.

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