How should an electric car sound like?
Traffic noise affects society in general, with a clear impact on the level of productivity, well-being and health. Electric vehicles, being inherently quiet, provide a great opportunity for positive social change, and part of that adjustment must be cultural. Until recently, automotive experts invested their time finding ways to reduce the level of sound produced by cars with internal combustion engines. The question now arises conversely, to the extent that different surveys reveal an increased risk of collision of quieter electrical vehicles with pedestrians and cyclists. For example, the U.S. legislation on pedestrian safety, published in 2011, requires that, in the near future, these vehicles have an audible alert.
CUT/STIR noticed that there is opportunity in place, that might not be to merely replace the current paradigm of automobile noise with an approximate substitute with only road safety in mind. In fact, our time is of an unprecedented chance to redefine the soundscape of roads and cities, by building a comprehensive system that manages tone and intensity of noise, provides adaptability to environment, time of day, traffic congestion and road conditions. All of these factors, as much as the drivers point of view, will play an important role in the future of sound design for electric vehicles.
We believe the city of Porto has critical mass and institutional framework to approach this issue through an interesting vantage point. Thus, we challenged the excellent group of people behind the brand new Digital Creativity Center (CCD) of the School of the Arts of the Catholic University of Portugal. We showed them our idea of firing up the debate and together we contacted and asked for help from several national and international entities with interest and activity in the development of electric vehicles and audio research.
After a few months of preparation, here we are, the first event to ever bring up the topic of Electric Vehicles Sound Design in Portugal. The seminar will take place on the 5th of November, 2012 in the Catholic University of Porto and it will gather an exceptional group of international experts from both industry and academia, who will present and discuss different perspectives and concerns around this emerging topic.