Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Silly meditations on the hybrid car

Hybrid cars are too quiet.
So say the reports about the new era of eco-friendly vehicles. They are so quiet that they can just come up on one from nowhere.
One is not prepared. One gets a fright. If one is not flattened by the oncoming silent vehicle, one may die of fright.
Truly, silent cars are a serious hazard.

Sound is a vital part of our world and of our danger warning system.
It is basic to human communication.

We like and need to hear things and people coming. Noises alert us. We find stealth threatening.
Well, stealth IS threatening. Think panthers stalking prey. Think cat burglars. Think stealth bombers and submarines.

Bikes have bells so cyclists can ping one as they come up from behind on the seaside trails. I mention this since it is a bane of my life.
We put bells on cats to help save hapless birds and marsupials.

So, should they put bells on hybrid cars to save hapless pedestrians and animals?
If so, how would the city streets sound? Oh, be-jangles. Ring-a-bloody-infernal-din of a ding.
Tinkle traffic all the way.
And if the urban soundscape turned into a constant mighty cacophonic windchime, how mad would we go? Come to think of it, just driving in tinkerbell cars would drive one a bit nuts.

So perhaps not bells for cars.

How about horns? But would that be a quiet constant horn from oncoming cars or lots of blasts every time another car or a person gets within striking range? Like those reverse beeps on trucks and SUVs? A constant hoot of traffic?

How dire would that be? Could pedestrians hear each other speaking?

Or maybe pedestrians could hear the cars speaking. Hybrid cars could have voices. They could talk, warning people of their passage. They could say "here I come", "I think I can", "I'm a travelling man", "I'm on a mission", "get off the road", "yoohoo I'm a hoon" or just "car-car-car-car" or "shopping, shopping, shopping"... Self-centred cars could just say "me me me".
Cars could have electronic programmed voices or they could even have the voices of the drivers on recorded loops, just like phone messages.

Wouldn't traffic be a riot!
Everybody talking at once. Which way to look? Who is talking to whom?

But this presents more problems. Overseas, cars would be speaking in different languages. One may hear them coming but not understand them.

So how about music? Singing cars? Mozart cars? Hip hop cars?
It all ends up with noise.

So what is the answer for the silent hybrid?
A special noise of its own. A hum? A purr?

And full circle we come. Silent eco-friendly cars are only going to be people-friendly if they sound like cars.

Welcome to the new car engine recording industry.


Jatz said...

Instead of the car having to make noise, perhaps we humans could enclose ourselves in an impenetrable, bubble, with GPS that we could key in to take us to our destination. We could have the bubble enclosing us integrated with virtual reality software so we could travel without experiencing traffic, bubblegum or swine flu.

Samela said...

Gorgeous idea.

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