Making a noise

Sometimes technology can solve issues that we are just not ready to have solved. For many years, our cars have been noisy, polluting machines that have an adverse effect on our urban environment. Great news then that electric vehicles will resolve both the noise and the pollution? Not quite. Whilst people don’t tend to like the noise that cars produce, it seems that we aren’t quite ready to live without it. Responding to safety concerns, as of this week all new electric and hybrid cars must be fitted with an ‘Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System’. Otherwise put, they must by law make a fake noise, and that noise must be of equivalent volume to a traditional car. Already car manufacturers have been scrambling to find their own noise. It is difficult to believe that our cars will always need to be noisy; rather that the invention of quiet cars is ahead of its time and so we have needed to despec them in order to address our own inadequacies. There are many examples of this across history, including Thomas Edison’s electric pen (released in 1875, 135 year before the iPad was released), and Hero of Alexandria’s coin operated vending machine which dispensed holy water, some 2,000 years prior to the mass production of consumables like chocolate bars. As with all great innovations, timing is everything.