E-scooter operators team up to research ‘universal sound’ for e-scooters

The three operators of London’s rental e-scooter scheme are researching and developing a ‘universal sound’ to help improve safety, in particular for people with visual impairments.

Last week, Dott, Lime and TIER announced it would develop the sound in collaboration with the PEARL research facility at University College London (UCL).

The aim of the project is to improve safety across the entire e-scooter industry by helping people, in particular those with visual impairments, identify rental e-scooters. 

Research is expected to produce a sound which can be tested by operators in London this year, attaining an industry standard and ultimately aiming to scale up to other cities in the UK and beyond.

Professor Nick Tyler, director of PEARL, said: “This is an exciting project to work on to ensure that people with a range of different capabilities can know when an e-scooter is nearby and how it is moving, enabling them to comfortably and safely move around the urban environment. 

“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. 

“It is a huge scientific challenge, but one that will enable everyone to feel comfortable with this new form of micro-mobility that is quickly growing in popularity.”

Fred Jones, vice president and regional general manager of TIER, said: “Safety is at the heart of everything 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. 

“Working with experts at UCL to develop an inclusive sound for e-scooters will be crucial to protecting pedestrians and road users potentially made vulnerable through the introduction of this new transport mode to the UK.”

The project has been backed by TfL, who operates the scheme in London.