Updated: Jul 31, 2018
Today, TRL commence trials with electric driver-less cars (or pods) in Greenwich, Milton Keynes and Coventry.
This is part of the UK Government's drive to become world leaders in driver-less technology.
Initially, these will be slow speed trials to explore the real life challenges and risks and the public's reaction.
One positive upside, being mentioned in the interview with media, are the benefits of clean and quiet technology.
This could indeed be the way to reduce air and noise pollution in our cities with a co-ordinated approach, but this will bring other challenges such as whether new EU legislation requiring "Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems" (AVAS) within 5 years to provide an alert warning to pedestrians might make matters worse.
So what sound should we use to replace the combustion engine at slow speeds where the tyre road interaction was not the noise source?
Don Norman - a cognitive science professor, designer and vice president of Apple - explores what might only be best described as the irony that we are now needing to think about spending money and standardising the addition of noise to our vehicles. http://www.technologyreview.com/view/524241/what-noise-does-the-electric-car-make/
He suggests that they should include 4 key criteria - alerting, orienting, not annoying, standardisation.
"I'd add that we have a responsibility too, for choosing sound that does not create a pollutant that masks the sounds from our natural world, given that traffic noise in the UK is the most prevalent source of man made noise. This is a chance to enhance our aural world, and it is not clear yet who is taking a lead to grasp the opportunity and take the step to improve our soundscapes."
Peter Rogers, Managing Director