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Friendly muted horn to warn pedestrians



I think most drivers of electric vehicles agree that we do not want any artificial sounds permanently emitted from our vehicles to make up for the “missing” engine rumble. At the same time, there is consensus that electric vehicles, while still far and few in between, are particularly dangerous for that very reason: Pedestrians and cyclists usually do not hear us coming and presume that where there is no noise, there is no car.

Honking the normal horn is not a good option, since it’s way too loud and thus can inappropriately scare pedestrians and cyclists, giving us EV drivers an inadvertently aggressive appearance. A simple and adequate solution has been discussed for a long time now, and I hope that Tesla will implement it in their vehicles soon: An additional, smaller, less aggressive, manually operated horn specifically to warn pedestrians and cyclists.


The Chevrolet Volt/Opel Ampera has this feature, and it has proven very useful.



Category: Tags: entered 29-Apr-2013


Most likely, and needed. Should be optional by switch. People have other senses.
In darkeness they will see the lights.


On 6 February, 2013, the European Parliament approved a draft law to tighten noise limits for cars to protect public health, and also to add alerting sounds to ensure the audibility of hybrid and electric vehicles to improve the safety of vulnerable road users in urban areas, such as blind, visually and auditorily challenged pedestrians, cyclists and children. The draft legislation states a number of tests, standards and measures that must first be developed for an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems (AVAS) to be compulsory in the future. Now an agreement has to be negotiated with European Union countries.[17][18] The approved amendment establishes that "the sound to be generated by the AVAS should be a continuous sound that provides information to the pedestrians and vulnerable road users of a vehicle in operation. The sound should be easily indicative of vehicle behaviour and should sound similar to the sound of a vehicle of the same category equipped with an internal combustion engine."[18]

United States
The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 was approved by the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent on December 9, 2010 and passed by the House of Representatives by 379 to 30 on December 16, 2010.[2][21][22] The act does not stipulate a specific speed for the simulated noise but requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to study and establish a motor vehicle safety standard that would set requirements for an alert sound that allows blind and other pedestrians to reasonably detect a nearby electric or hybrid vehicle, and the ruling must be finalized within eighteen months.[2][3] The bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 4, 2011.[23]
A proposed rule was published for comment by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in January, 2013. It would require hybrids and electric vehicles traveling at less than 18.6 miles per hour (30 km/h) to emit warning sounds that pedestrians must be able to hear over background noises. The agency selected 30 km/h as the limit because according to NHTSA measurements, this is the speed at which the sound levels of the hybrid and electric vehicles approximated the sound levels produced by similar internal combustion vehicles.[24][25] According to the NHTSA proposal, carmakers would be able to pick the sounds the vehicles make from a range of choices, and similar vehicles would have to make the same sounds. The rules are scheduled to go into effect in September 2014. The NHTSA estimates that the new warning noises would prevent 2,800 pedestrian and cyclist injuries during the life of each model year electric and hybrid vehicle.[25][26]
In February 2013, the Association of Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which submitted a joint comment to the NHTSA, announced their support to the rule, but asked the NHTSA to find a noise level that effectively alerts pedestrians without being excessively loud to others inside and outside of the vehicle. They also commented that the rule is too complicated, unnecessarily prescriptive, and it will cost more than necessary. Some automakers also said there is no need for electric-drive vehicles to play sounds while not in motion, "since it is not clear that it helps pedestrians to hear cars that are stopped in traffic or parked." In addition, the carmakers requested the NHTSA to make the new sound system required by 2018 instead of 2014.[25][27][28]
Perhaps one of the cruise control stalk actions could be used to trigger it.

1) It seems highly unlikely that cruise would be on when you are worried about chiming at pedestrians, so this "double duty" would make sense even if there weren't "unmapped" stalk actions.

2) Other than in/up/down, I don't know what motions are available on the cruise stalk...but if available, for example, you could gently pull the cruise control stalk out (or push it away from the driver) to chime at pedestrians.
I'm voting this up, but only if it is a separate button, not the horn, and it sounds as polite as a bicycle bell. :)
I considered doing a product like this out of Power12, as an aftermarket device.

The idea is to connect a (possibly programmable) low-power sound device to the high-beam output voltage on or near the projector beams - this voltage should be easy to isolate. The system would be designed to connect to the regular and high-beam wiring so that when a driver actuates or flashes his high beams during normal headlight use, the sound is not actuated -- only during the day would the sudden flashing of the brights actuate the sounder. Thus, a driver would use the high-beam 'flash' stalk function to generate the sound during the day, and also actuate the high beams at night -- providing similar warning functionality in each case. As an aftermarket design, it doesn't require any programming help from Tesla.

It would ostensibly be mounted just under the nose, so as to easily be heard in front of the car.
Our other car is a Chevy Volt - and the "muted" horn is quite handy in parking lots - warning someone with out blowing the horn a full volume and scaring they heck out of them. :)
I love the Pedestrian Friendly horn on my Volt and almost daily wish I had it on my Tesla.
My 1960s era Citroen had two horns: the discrete city horn and the raucous country horn. A light press on the button invoked the town horn and a firmer press on the same button blasted out the country horn. Worked like a champ.
Ditto with other Volt owners -- I use our little muted horn a lot -- I doesn't scare the peds.
I like the idea of a muted sound when activated by the driver. But I despise a constant sound that emits when under a given speed. I think some ICE vehicles are as quiet as EV's at low speed.
As a workaround, why not just put a cheap radio controlled door bell in the frunk and the trigger button underneath the driver seat. There you have it and it can get even funny if you choose one of those "MP3 door bells" where you can record any own sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAX2H0hpOc4
The sound of a snorting horse would be fun.

An external speaker that relays a spoken message would be be great, eg "Excuse me".
An external speaker that relays a spoken message would be be great, eg "Excuse me". On my bike I can go from a quiet tinkling bell sound through a more strident "bring-bring" to a serious "OI!" if the pedestrian is in imminent danger.
I walk a dog and ride a bike daily in one of the most Tesla-filled neighborhoods in the country, and I don't notice ANY difference between a Tesla (or i3, or Leaf, etc) and the usual ICE car overtaking me. The tire noise predominates; you simply don't hear "engine rumble" except when a Boy Racer goes by (yuck). Deliberately making noise, like the abominable truck-backing-up-beepers, should be avoided with every fiber of our being.

That said, a gentler pedestrian-friendly low horn would be welcome on every vehicle. A gentle tap on the horn button for low, higher pressure for a loud warning would come naturally.
I too had the Volt and used the lower volume horn.  It was melodic if I remember correctly and did not inspire anger or startle the intended person you were trying to warn.