The first public pilot of a universal e-scooter alert sound has gone live in London and York.
A portion of shared operator Tier’s e-scooters equipped with its ‘Parrot’ computing module will emit the acoustic alert while being ridden by customers.
The result of 18 months of research and development, the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS) has been created to allow pedestrians, especially those who are blind or partially sighted, to judge the distance and speed of e-scooters being ridden nearby by sound alone.
Earlier this year a number of sounds were tested on the streets of London for the first time. Based on feedback provided by volunteers and further analysis, the final sound being used in the pilot was identified. This will be the first time the sound has been deployed on e-scooters which members of the public can hire as part of Tier’s regular service.
Members of the public are being encouraged to try the scooters out and share their feedback.
The universal sound has been funded by Tier and developed with Anderson Acoustics, which helped design the Transport for London (TfL) Urban Bus Sound, as well as UCL’s PEARL facility. TfL, its Independent Disability Advisory Group, and charities including Thomas Pocklington Trust, as well as other operators supported the work.
Tier has given TfL a free license to the universal sound, allowing it to be deployed by any e-scooter operator in Phase 2 of the London e-scooter trial.
Zag Daily spoke with TRL’s Head of New Mobility Dr. George Beard, as TRL, in partnership with WMG, is in the process of delivering a project for the Department for Transport to inform the development of the future technical requirements for e-scooters.
“Addressing concerns around pedestrian safety, in particular for pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired, is critical and so it is great to see this pilot of Tier’s acoustic alert launched,” he said.
“Acoustic alert systems are likely to be an important safety feature for e-scooters going forward, and research such as this will help define how best to design and implement alerts which are effective.”
What the alert sounds like
It was designed to be audible in busy environments and gives more vulnerable road users an improved amount of information about the e-scooters position, speed and direction.
“The sound was designed by the team at UCL’s PEARL laboratory to break through the urban soundscape without being unpleasant or obtrusive,” Tier’s Senior Corporate Communications Manager for Northern Europe George Chamberlain told Zag. “For example, it is a repeating sound, and the pitch rises as the e-scooter’s speed increases.”
Tier users can share their feedback via email to email@example.com or via a chat window in the Help and Safety section of the Tier app.