One of the major safety concerns with electric vehicles is that they don't make a lot of noise, and as such pedestrians and other motorists don't get the same audio cues that warn of an approaching car. That, combined with the fact that you probably wouldn't expect a silent car to be driving around — until EVs become more common, that is — makes for a lot of accidents that don't need to happen.
With a big push for electric vehicles right around the corner, lawmakers in the U.S., Europe and Japan are looking into how to allay the safety worries associated with this noiselessness. One solution: have the electric cars emit made-up sounds. These could be anything from an approximation of a good ol' gas guzzler to, randomly, Star Wars sound effects.
There's something uniquely terrifying about the idea of a TIE fighter screech being what you hear right before getting into an accident.
Researchers at the University of Warwick in the U.K. are currently conducting tests to see what kinds of sounds pedestrians respond to the quickest, and if an EV should feature a set of warning sounds that distinguish it from a regular car. "We will have a week with music and weeks with natural sounds, engine noise and also with science-fiction sounds," Warwick professor Paul Jennings told the Daily Mail.
"[Pedestrians] think they are reacting to the sight of a vehicle, but often it is the sound that is triggering their attention," Jennings continued, adding, "Sound also tells you whether the vehicle is accelerating or decelerating."
So, in the near future, when you're purchasing an electric car, you may have to decide on more than just the color of your upholstery in how you want the car to sound.