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Infiniti M35h first hybrid to get an audible pedestrian warning system as standard


November 18, 2010

The Infiniti M35h hybrid will have an audible pedestrian warning system as standard.

The Infiniti M35h hybrid will have an audible pedestrian warning system as standard.

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Those looking forward to quieter city streets as a result of near-silent electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids replacing internal combustion engine vehicles on our roads may have to think again. To ensure that cyclists and pedestrians, including the visually impaired, are aware of stealthy oncoming vehicles, researchers have been looking at different noises that can be applied to EVs. Toyota has also already announced plans to sell an onboard audio alert system for its Prius but it looks like such systems are set to become more widespread with the Infiniti M35h to be the world’s first hybrid to get an audible pedestrian warning system as standard.

Infiniti says, when it goes on sale in Europe towards the middle of 2011, the M35h will travel further and faster in silent electric-only mode than any other hybrid on the market. It combines a 306 PS (225 kW) 3.5-liter petrol V6 with a 68 PS (50 kW) electric motor and is capable of accelerating from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in under 5.9 seconds. The help reduce the chance of cleaning up any oblivious pedestrians when operating in electric mode, the vehicle’s Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians (VSP) system will utilize a range of high-low sounds at different volume levels.

As the result of a research program, (involving cognitive and acoustic psychologists no less), to find the most effective, but least intrusive, noise, the system will emit a sine wave that extends from 2.5kHz at the high end to a low of 600Hz. The company says this is a range that is readily audible to all age groups and avoids a sound range (around 1,000Hz) that would add unnecessary noise to the environment.

The noise will be at its loudest when the vehicle is started to give a clear indication it is beginning to move, and will sweep from high to low frequency depending on the vehicle’s speed and whether it is accelerating or decelerating. An intermittent tone will be used to indicate reversing.

Although the Infiniti M35h can travel at up to 80 km/h (50 mph) on engine-noise free electric power alone, the VSP system will cut out at speeds over 30 km/h because sufficient road noise is generated above that speed.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

I\'m wondering if anyone who actually rides bikes next to Priuses really cares? I have personally ridden next to a Prius and at 10 mph they sound like any other car to me. Whats the problem?

Drew Hunt

when e-cars are behind you they are hard to hear. Also the Nissan Leaf already has this feature : Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians

Mike Donovan

I would like to suggest that Drew try walking up to an intersection with a blindfold on and try to cross the street when one of those cars is waiting. If you can\'t hear the cars, you can\'t \"read\" the traffic pattern enough to be able to cross the street, especially if that street is about 8 or 10 lanes and cars can turn on red etc., and since drivers seem to pay little or no attention to anybody or anything other than themselves and are therefore probably not even aware that you might be in the crosswalk, it could get very ugly. I have almost been hit several times by these silent monsters, especially when they are pulling out of a parking space, thank God for my Guide Dog. At least she noticed the car, since the driver obviously never saw me. It has happened in several intersections also, like if they decide to turn right on a red and of course don\'t bother to look to see if anybody might actually be in the crosswalk. It can be a whole lot more frightening when I\'m using my cane instead of my Guide Dog, I had a car come within 2\" of hitting me when I was using my cane, all they said was \"sorry didn\'t see you there, didn\'t you see me coming?\" guess the cane wasn\'t a big enough sign that I\'m blind. So, I guess I care and I think most people who walk care. So, you gonna try walking up to the intersection in a blindfold and try to cross it, when you don\'t know if one of those cars could be there? If so, good luck.


I am in the Netherlands just now and the streets are full of electric trams and the enormous number of bicycles used by the Dutch. Bikes and near-silent trams have co-existed for years without problems and this is due to two things.

Firstly the trams all have two sound producing devices: a low power bell just to let people know they are coming through and a very loud horn to warn of potential collision.

Secondly, the law here presumes that any collision between a tram (or a car) and a bike or pedestrian is the vehicle driver\'s fault. So if you are unicycling naked the wrong way up a one way street in the dark and get hit by a tram or a car, then it is their fault for not looking out for you.

This makes for some very careful drivers indeed and as a result biking and walking around the cities is really pleasant. Because they already have respect, the pedestrians and cyclists don\'t seem to misbehave. All very civilised and electric vehicles don\'t need \"vroom vroom\" noises added to them.

Doug MacLeod
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