Automotive

Toyota to sell onboard audio alert system for Prius

Toyota to sell onboard audio a...
Toyota's onboard audio alert system warns pedestrians of an oncoming vehicle
Toyota's onboard audio alert system warns pedestrians of an oncoming vehicle
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Toyota's onboard audio alert system warns pedestrians of an oncoming vehicle
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Toyota's onboard audio alert system warns pedestrians of an oncoming vehicle

Having grown up with the roar of gasoline-powered engines, most people rely not only on their eyes, but also their ears when detecting the danger of an oncoming vehicle. The quiet whirring of an electric a hybrid vehicle operating at low speeds isn’t enough to alert pedestrians of the vehicle’s approach and poses particular risks to the blind. To address this problem Toyota has announced that it will begin selling an onboard audio device that provides alerts pedestrians to the presence of quiet vehicles, such as its gasoline-electric hybrid Prius.

To meet new guidelines from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism for hybrid and near-silent vehicles, Toyota will begin selling the device in Japan from August 30 for retrofitting on its third-generation Prius vehicles. When the Prius is operating as an electric vehicle at speeds up to approximately 25km/h (15mph) the onboard device automatically emits a synthesized sound of an electric motor.

The sound, which Toyota says is “aimed to alert but not annoy,” rises and falls in pitch relative to the vehicle’s speed to help indicate the vehicle’s proximity and movement. Maybe some bright spark will come up with a way to hook up the device to a SoundRacer to give their Prius some real volume.

Toyota also plans other versions of the device for use in gasoline-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles as well as fuel-cell hybrid vehicles planned for launch.

12 comments
gadgetmind
Pedestrians who blinder heedlessly into the road are a serious menace to cyclists so need to be taught to use their eyes/brains, and fast.

If electric cars are an effective way of either educating or culling said dunderheads, then bring it on.

The quieter vehicles are, the more pleasant our streets will be.

Ian
CliffG
As we migrate away from internal combustion engines, \"problems\" like this will crop up again and again. Inserting a pseudo-noise is exactly the wrong solution. Ian is right, let\'s cull the dunderheads and make some progress towards a quieter world.
Cliff
Carol Wilkerson
Of course, they will have to advertise the specific sound this alert will make so people get used to it and know it for what it is, but it\'s a great idea nonetheless. What they should do is market this alert system to private airplane owners too, so that in the event they lose power and need to land on a beach, road, etc., they can let someone in either location know and not kill them.
Terotech
Ian, I\'m fully in agreement regarding the idiot pedestrians, and anyway many petrol cars are very very quiet already. Apart from unsighted people, what\'s to stop pedestrians using their eyes before making a change of direction just as motorists do? Perhaps we should go back to having guys carrying a red flag in front of a vehicle.....but even they didn\'t have a bell! Ian.
hfuller@solaraero.org
Funny, I always thought it was the vehicle driver\'s responsibility to see and avoid pedestrians, inasmuch as they always have the right-of-way. I have seen this bogus issue before and am quite frankly disappointed that Toyota has given it credence. Does this mean that clothespins and playing cards will be required for bicycle wheels to make the \"motorcycle\" sound we wanted when I was a kid? How about requiring aircraft-like strobe lights so the deaf can also know a Prius (or any other car, for that mater) is coming? This article just shows how PC and illogical a company can get.
sinan
Yeeah, just bring\'em ! We\'ll learn how to deal with them, we\'re bright enough, don\'t worrry;-)
joke aside, this will be huge, i tell you. i mean, the EV overtaking, if this (approaching pedestrians without mking noise) is the only annoyance, man, i tell you, i wanna be hit by an ev, right now !!
Ed
and couple this with that Honda innovation of making the front end of the vehicle software so that *WHEN* you hit a pedestrian, it won\'t snap their legs like twigs! Come on people! is there an epidemic of hitting pedestrians with cars in this world? Aren\'t there more important things we should be dedicating our accumulated brain power on fixing?
Facebook User
It should have a voice recording in a deadpan way... \"Hey. Car here. Could you like, not walk in front of me?\"
warren52nz
Surely technology must be close to being able to detect that there\'s a soft target in front of the car and honk a horn or something. I\'d rather see transport getting quieter as do many others in here.
roguengineer
While I agree that cars should be as quiet as possible, and love how quiet the Prius is when in full EV mode, there are pedestrians other than alert full grown adults that deserve a little extra protection. There are several Prius\' in my neighborhood, amid dozens of children who rightfully occupy the normally quite streets with games of stickball and bike riding. I have seen the look of shock and terror when a quiet EV creeps up in the middle of their games, and even seen a child loose control and crash when a car suddenly appears out of nowhere. Even when the drivers are safe in the knowledge they aren\'t going to run over anyone, it takes a few precious seconds for the shocked children to process this fact.