On-street testing of universal sound for shared e-scooters begins in London

Posted: 28 April 2023 | | No comments yet

In partnership with the Sight Loss Council, the UK’s first on-street testing of acoustic alerts for rental e-scooters is taking place in London, in order to make it easier for people with visual impairments to identify when a vehicle is nearby.

On-street testing of universal sound for shared e-scooters begins in London

Credit: Transport for London

On-street testing of a ‘universal sound’ for rental e-scooters to alert pedestrians and other road users of their approach is now taking place on London’s streets. The research is being conducted by Anderson Acoustics following extended experiments at University College London’s (UCL) specialist Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory (PEARL), together with London’s other e-scooter operators, TIER Mobility, Lime and Dott.

The on-street testing is the first time any of the acoustic alerts have been heard in public, with researchers assessing how pedestrians react to the different sounds being tested. The aim is to improve safety across the e-scooter industry, helping road users and particularly partially sighted and blind people to identify when a shared e-scooter is being ridden in their vicinity, regardless of its operator or make.

Sight Loss Council volunteers with lived experience of sight loss are informing the development of this universal sound in partnership with TIER. The Sight Loss Council, funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust, is led by blind and partially sighted (BPS) volunteers who work with businesses and services to ensure what they do is accessible and inclusive.

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The findings of the testing will be analysed ahead of a broader pilot of the universal sound in London, York and TIER locations in Essex later in 2023.

Fred Jones, Regional General Manager, Northern Europe at TIER, said: “It has been a real privilege to have been involved in this pioneering safety work. The depth and quality of research undertaken so far by the team at UCL and Anderson Acoustics is truly staggering, and it is great that testing is now moving into the real world. We are proud that this industry-leading work is taking place in the UK, with the technology ultimately being offered around the world.”

Helen Sharp, TfL’s e-scooter trial lead, said: “Our trial is the only legal way to ride an e-scooter on public roads in London and we want it to work for everybody. We’re really pleased to see the e-scooter operators working with University of College London on the next stage of testing for a sound for rental e-scooters to alert people of their approach. The trial should take everyone’s accessibility needs into account, and this testing moves us closer to finding a solution that would make it easier for people to know that an e-scooter is near them, in particular people who are visually impaired.”

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