Research into Universal Sound for e-Scooters aims to boost safety for blind pedestrians
The University of Salford’s Acoustics Research Centre has received additional funding to continue its work to develop a universal sound for e-scooters, operating in partnership with Dott, an Amsterdam based micro-mobility operator, and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
The partnership, which was launched in 2021, has supported research into the first feasibility analysis for using artificial motor sounds on light electric vehicles. The project aims to understand whether artificial motor sounds on electric scooters can improve audible detectability of these vehicles by people with visual impairments while avoiding additional noise pollution in our cities.
In response to a brief by RNIB, funded by Dott and HEIF, Salford Acoustics have created a series of sounds that underwent extensive testing in their renowned acoustic research facilities. The preliminary research results have indicated that improved noticeability of e-scooters using sound can be achieved without adding to noise pollution in cities.
Dr Antonio J Torija Martinez, Principal Investigator of the Project at The University of Salford said: “We are delighted with the progress made on this project. Based on initial research, we found that the addition of a well-designed acoustic signal can significantly increase vehicle awareness and ultimately safety.
“The additional funding secured from the Innovation Strategy Fund allows us to carry out further research into the optimisation of acoustic awareness of light electrical vehicles that will be effective for those with visual impairment in complex urban environments. Our research will also be exploring how we integrate human responses to the design of acoustic solutions for e-mobility.”
The ‘Safe and Sound’ project has now kicked off in consultation with several National Blind Associations across Europe with phase one of the research focusing on three main areas:
- Impact of different sounds on users and the public
- The feasibility and deployment of the sounds developed to work in tandem with vehicle hardware capability
- Undertaking trials in different European locations
Maxim Romain, COO & Co-Founder Dott, said: “As we work to provide safe, reliable and sustainable travel across our cities, the progress with Salford Acoustics offers encouraging steps towards a sound which could help identify vehicles, in a way that respects the environment of our streets. We are committed to supporting further research and collaborating with the wider industry and the partners in this project to find a global standard which can make shared e-scooters safer for both riders and pedestrians.”
Robin Spinks, Strategic Lead Innovation Projects at RNIB added: “Light electric vehicles pose a significant safety hazard to many people with sight loss. We’re delighted to be collaborating with the Safe and Sound project at Salford as we continue to pioneer solutions to the detectability of quiet vehicles. “
The project is aiming for the roll-out of a future global standard on light electric vehicle technical standards and is continually seeking out collaborations with other partners to complement and enhance its research.