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The Sound of Safety: HARMAN HALOsonic

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When it comes to electric vehicles, there’s no denying the multitude of benefits for manufacturers, consumers, and the environment – from reduced emissions to lower fuel costs, increased efficiency, and lower noise pollution. These benefits continue to be realized as more and more drivers make the switch from conventional vehicles to hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and all-electric vehicles (EVs). Recent reports from BloombergNEF suggest EV sales are expected to rise from 2 million worldwide in 2018 to 28 million in 2030 and 56 million by 2040.

While an increased number of electric vehicles on the road is certainly good news for reducing carbon emissions and air pollution, their presence also presents new safety-related challenges and considerations. Mainly, the silent nature of the electric powertrain means the audio cues that pedestrians rely on as a warning of an approaching vehicle no longer exist.

For years, the World Blind Union and the European Blind have advocated for a solution that relies on our ability to perceive the distance, direction, and speed of approaching objects by listening. As a result, the EU 'Regulation on the Sound Level of Motor Vehicles' (540/2014) was implemented on July 1, 2019 to address the safety concerns surrounding quiet electric vehicles. The new regulation mandates that all new electric and hybrid vehicles with four or more wheels be fitted with an Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS). In other words, the new law requires cars to be equipped with a sound system that emits some kind of noise when traveling at slower speeds. Specifically, electric and hybrid cars must produce a sound when traveling at speeds below 12 miles per hour, and it must rise and fall in pitch to indicate acceleration or deceleration to ensure that these vehicles are more easily heard by pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable groups.

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Since 2009, HARMAN has been pursuing the development of a suite of active noise management solutions called HALOsonic and helping OEMs adopt AVAS technology. Leveraging over 60 years of audio expertise, HARMAN created the external Electronic Sound Synthesis (eESS) system, featuring technology that projects a specific sound from speakers at the front and rear of the vehicle. Speed and throttle position sensors determine the volume and characteristics of the eESS signal warning pedestrians of an approaching vehicle. HARMAN’s eESS is optimized to operate in urban environments where the risk of collision with pedestrians – especially the vision-impaired, elderly, children and cyclists – is the highest.

In addition to increasing pedestrian safety and ensuring OEMs are in compliance with the new EU governmental regulation, HALOsonic also offers customizable in-cabin sound management solutions through its internal Sound Synthesis technology called iESS.. For instance, the welcome sound that greets drivers when the car turns on, the shutdown sound when the motor is switched off, and the overall engine noise can all be engineered to reflect every automakers distinctive sound DNA needs. Whether it’s the purr of a sporty engine or a hum that resembles a spaceship, HALOsonic has the power to help OEMs establish their own sound-signature.

The deployment of active noise management technologies is expected to make significant inroads when it comes to ensuring pedestrian safety. With HARMAN’s HALOsonic solutions, OEMs can confidently and seamlessly equip their vehicles with cutting-edge technologies to meet the latest governmental regulations. For more details about the entire HALOsonic technology suite, visit: HALOsonic.co.uk