TIER, Lime and Dott partner with UCL to develop universal sound for e-scooters
Building on existing work, University College London, TIER, Dott and Lime will research and develop a ‘universal sound’ for rental e-scooters in an effort to improve safety across the entire industry.
On 28 January 2022, University College London’s (UCL) specialist Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory (PEARL), together with London’s three e-scooter operators – TIER Mobility, Lime and Dott – announced that they are partnering to research and develop a ‘universal sound’ for rental e-scooters, in order to alert pedestrians and other roads users of their approach.
Building on existing work by all three operators, the sound will be developed in London, staring from February 2022, in an approach endorsed by Transport for London (TfL). London’s e-scooter operators have the joint ambition of developing and trialling a universal sound that could help to improve safety across the entire e-scooter industry, helping road users – particularly those with sight loss – to identify a rental e-scooter, regardless of its operator or make.
Research is expected to produce a sound which can be tested by operators in London in 2022, attaining an industry standard and ultimately scaling up to other cities in the UK and beyond.
The joint initiative is an industry first and follows extended engagement with disability experts and access consultants, including Transport for All, the Thomas Pocklington Trust and the Royal National Institute of Blind People. The sound will consider the needs of individuals, including those with sight loss, hearing loss and neuro-diverse conditions. It will be ethically tested at the PEARL research facility, which can create different city environments, before testing on the street to ensure that it works for individuals in real-world settings.
Professor Nick Tyler, Director at UCL PEARL, said: “Through studying how the human hearing system has evolved, we can create sounds for e-scooters that are detectable without adding more noise to the environment. We plan to test a range of combinations of sounds and environments at UCL PEARL, with people who are less likely to detect e-scooters nearby, so that we create a sound that works for all.”
Fred Jones, Vice President and Regional General Manager of TIER, said: “Safety is at the heart of everything that we do at TIER, and so we are proud to have initiated and funded this project to develop an inclusive and effective sound for e-scooters. TIER will license the use of this sound for free to the benefit of other operators in our industry and the residents of the cities in which they serve. We are really excited to collaborate with Lime and Dott on this initiative and to deliver an inclusive e-scooter service in London, but we don’t want to stop there.”
Duncan Robertson, UK General Manager at Dott, said: “This project builds upon our existing research with the University of Salford to refine audible options and test in a virtual environment. By working with our partner operators, we are bringing together our collective insights to help to find a solution which we hope will become consistent across the industry, and therefore as simple as possible for other road users and pedestrians to understand.”
Alan Clarke, Senior Director of Policy at Lime, said: “Lime is proud to be leading the way in developing e-scooter services which are safer, more accessible and better integrated with other users of urban space. This project builds on our existing work with Lime’s independent disability advisory board to research how audio-alerts can improve the safe integration of e-scooters into cities.”
Bikes & Scooters
Dott, Lime, Royal National Institute of Blind people, Thomas Pocklington Trust, TIER Mobility, Transport for All, Transport for London (TfL), University College London, University College London's Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory (PEARL)