Nissan Motor Co. says it will add sounds to the Leaf electric car to serve as a warning to pedestrians. The sounds are designed as a safety measure, given the fact that pure electric vehicles are nearly silent, even when they travel at fairly high speeds.
The Washington Post reports that Nissan explored more a hundred sounds ranging from chimes to artificial motor noises before settling on a soft whine that will increase with intensity as the car moves faster in forward gears. Nissan engineers reportedly have added a clanging sound to alert pedestrians when the vehicle backs up.
A Nissan statement explained the decision by saying, “While silence is golden, it does present practical challenges.”
A half century ago, cars were still built by people, not robots. Even on some of the country’s longest assembly lines, human workers installed windows, doors, hoods, engines, windshields, and batteries, with no robotic aid.
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