I was watching a repeat telecast of a program at CNBC last week. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were invited to MBA school of Columbia University, wherein students asked then questions. One of the student asked Bill Gates, what technology or industry did he see as next Microsoft? Bill Gates said that he sees a lot of potential in green energy sector. He indicated that a lot of research is on going but lot more needs to be done to find a affordable green energy solution.
Electric cars are one of the options that show promise as a green alternative to current cars. Almost all the major automotive giants are working towards launching and improving electric car technology. I read a article in USA today that grabbed my attention. General motor is working on electric cars that are friendly to vision impaired people.
Is there a need for vision impaired electric cars?
Current versions of electric car’s engine are silent and do not make noise as gasoline run cars. Therefore, electric cars have potential to sneak up on vision impaired pedestrians. GM is working with the National Federation of the Blind on technology to make sure that near-silent electric cars and hybrids don’t sneak up on unsuspecting walkers or runners.
Have there been more accidents with hybrid cars?
Directive of increasing safety of hybrid/ electric cars is coming from bill that was passed earlier this year – the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that Walkers and bicyclists are being struck at a greater rate by hybrid vehicles than by conventional cars, which is based on one study.
NFB President Marc Maurer said that “I’ve had probably 25 blind people in the country tell me they’ve almost been hit by these cars.” He further added that vehicles brushed up against some or crushed their white canes.
So there is a clear need for technology to help vision impaired people along with bicyclists to reduce their chances of being...
hit by a hybrid car. Maurer says he believes electric cars of the future will need to be equipped with a forward-directed sound device that operates without interruption while the car is in motion. All electric vehicles will have to make roughly the same artificial noise, he says, so that blind people will be able to distinguish them as moving vehicles.
Are there any leads on such technology?
GM has developed a driver-activated warning system for its new Chevrolet Volt extended range electric cars. The technology involves emission of short audible horn pulse as loud as the ring of a telephone when the driver pulls back on the turn-signal switch. Other automakers such as Toyota, Nissan are studying the issue and working on possible solutions.
Tesla, which as around 900 all-electric Roadsters in market is reluctant add noise in the vehicle. “One of the top attributes that our customers bring up is that (the car) is so quiet,” says spokeswoman Rachel Konrad. “The majority of the sound is not from the engine. It’s tire noise and wind resistance.” She said, they won’t add a noisemaker unless there is a “compelling reason.”
Well, every technical advancement brings its own problems and challenges. When it comes to cars, safety of driver, passenger and people on the road is of equal importance. I am glad that the concern for pedestrians and vision impaired people has been brought up in advance and Government has issued a bill to take action regarding this problem. I look forward for more innovations in green technologies without compromising safety of the people.