Swedish micromobility firm Voi is trialling an artificial sound on its shared e-scooters in three UK cities in a bid to better protect pedestrians.
Voi has developed a “low hum” which will replicate the fake engine noise used on some electric cars, alerting pedestrians to an e-scooters presence.
The move has been taken in collaboration with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), as part of a partnership that aims to ensure people with sight loss are not adversely affected by the presence of e-scooters.
The e-scooter operator will be running in-person testing events with sight loss organisations and local authorities to gain feedback on the sound in a real-world environment.
The pilot will be accompanied with a formal written consultation designed to gather feedback from visual impairment organisations, local authorities and police forces regarding the use of artificial vehicle alert systems.
The trial will run for three months on 60 e-scooters in Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol, with the results set to be assessed at the end of August.
Voi is currently the biggest shared e-scooter operator in the UK, with the 2.5 million rides taken since the start of the trials last year.
“Electric engines on e-scooters, like those on electric cars and buses, are extremely quiet which can be unnerving to other road users,” said Jack Samler, general manager at Voi UK and Ireland.
“By adding an appropriate sound we can hopefully improve the safety of our operations for all road users, including those who are vulnerable because of sight loss. This is the latest pilot as part of our partnership with the RNIB to address mobility issues faced by blind and partially sighted people. We’re looking forward to testing the new sound in the West of England, Birmingham and Liverpool and evaluating the impact it has during the trials.”
Robin Spinks, RNIB strategic lead innovation partnerships, added: “We are collaborating with the industry to create solutions which are sensitive to the needs of blind and partially sighted people. An audible warning is one such solution and we look forward to receiving feedback from the community.”