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Electric vehicles too quiet? Volvo Buses has a solution for that

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The detection system will alert people that may not hear an oncoming vehicle

One main concern about electric vehicles is that they’re just too quiet. Without the whirring of a traditional engine, a pedestrian or a cyclist may not hear an oncoming bus in time to move out of the way.

To address this issue, Volvo Buses has released a new detection system that uses a camera to monitor a bus’s surroundings. If it senses an "unprotected road-user" near the bus, it will transmit a sound to alert the person that a vehicle is approaching. Inside the bus, the driver is also alerted by way of a beep and flashing lights. But if an accident is imminent, the system will honk the horn.

Still, the system will not add extraneous noise. Peter Danielsson, Director Vehicle Features and Safety at Volvo Buses, explains:

The bus can be heard—but without being disruptive. We’ve solved this problem by developing a synthetic background sound with a frequency range that is not perceived as disruptive. For instance, it does not penetrate windows with triple glazing, unlike the low-frequency noise made by a diesel engine.

Launched this week at the IAA (International Motor Show Germany) in Hanover, the detection system will undergo field testing along route 55 in Gothenburg, Sweden, and will be introduced on Volvo’s European city bus fleet in 2017. Watch how it works below.