Electric Vehicle Warning Sound System

July 09, 2020 // By Andreas Pellkofer, Jagannath Rotti, Danny Ko, Analog Devices
Electric Vehicle Warning Sound System
Since electric vehicles do not emit the sound pedestrians and other traffic participants need to get alerted, the legislators all over the world stipulates that electric vehicles must be equipped with appropriate electronic noise generators. This article presents an elegant and easy to implement solution.


Traditional combustion engine vehicles emit engine sound, even at low travel speeds. Typically, pedestrians and other traffic participants recognize an approaching or departing vehicle through sight and auditory identification of tire sounds and other emitted noise when the vehicle is out of sight.

Electric vehicles (EVs) do not emit engine sound. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) move almost silently when traveling at low speeds and before the conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) kicks in. These vehicles are difficult to hear when travelling at speeds less than 19 mph. At greater speeds, tire sound becomes dominant.

Global governing bodies are exploring legislation that seeks to establish a minimum level of sound for PHEVs and HEVs when operating in electric mode so that visually impaired people, pedestrians, and cyclists can hear these vehicles approach and determine from which direction these vehicles are approaching. An example of this legislation can be found on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website.

An electric vehicle warning sound system (EVWSS) produces a series of sounds designed to alert pedestrians to the presence of EVs, HEVs, and PHEVs. The driver can initiate warning sounds (similar to the sound from a car horn, but less urgent); however, the sounds must automatically be enabled at low speeds. These sounds vary from artificial tones to realistic sounds that mimic engine noise and tires moving over gravel.

Analog Devices offers two different solutions for advanced applications with an in-cabin engine sound for an EV as well as an external engine sound. Analog Devices developed a solution based on the ADSP-BF706. For entry-level systems, Analog Devices developed a solution based on the ADAU1450 SigmaDSP®. These solutions can synthesize sound and adjust frequency, sound volume, and other parameters depending on the traveling speed, and these solutions can send the audio to an audio power amplifier. Depending on the requirements of certain legislation, the warning sound can be simulated using combustion engine sounds or any other synthesized tones.

Blackfin-Based Solution

The ADSP-BF706 Blackfin+® processor provides a single-chip solution for audio processing and interfacing to the control area network (CAN) bus. Analog Devices developed a CAN software stack that runs on the ADSP-BF706, which enables users to build automotive grade demonstrations with minimal effort (a Vector® CAN stack can also be used). Additionally, Analog Devices provides full hardware and software reference design and SigmaStudio® compatibility for live tuning of parameters.

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