Audi recently shared with Inhabitat a development that it’s been keeping under wraps – a new solution dubbed “e-sound” that helps pedestrians hear electric vehicles approaching. Audi’s future e-tron electric models are incredibly quiet and great for the environment, but their lack of sound isn’t great for pedestrians in urban settings. To combat this issue, the carmaker has been working on a noise to replicate a non-electric car’s motor. Read on to learn more and to check out a video showing their process.

Standard gas and diesel powered cars emit a sound from their engines that is clearly heard, but electric vehicles and hybrids do not have the same sound or even a sound at all that can be heard by pedestrians, which raises an issue for visually impaired pedestrians that rely solely on their hearing. To fix this issue in its new electric-powered e-tron models, Audi is developing a new synthetic sound signature.

Rudolf Halbmeir and his team are using computers and software to mix and listen to tones. According to De. Lars Hinrichsen, “Data relating to the electric motor’s rotational speed, vehicle speed, loads, and other parameters is continuously supplied by the vehicle to the control unit. It then uses this data to generate sound.”

The synthetic e-sound is played via a loudspeaker attached to the electric vehicle’s undercarriage. Axel Brombach stated, “We designed it to handle as much as 40 watts, but during normal operation it ranges between five and eight watts. That’s loud enough for nearby pedestrians and cyclists to hear the e-tron.”

The Audi R8 e-tron shown here may not have the same exact sounds as the V8 and V10-powered R8 models, but at least the electric-powered model will have a sound all its own.

+ Audi