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E-Scooter Sounds To Improve Safety For Blind & Partially Sighted People

Sounds that increase awareness of e-scooters have been developed by researchers at the University of Salford in partnership with the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB).

They are being tested by Dott, a leading micromobility company, and mark the next phase of a project which has so far resulted in the development of three potential sounds to increase awareness of vehicles without contributing to noise pollution.

Wearing a virtual reality headset, participants are immersed into a 360 degree environment, featuring simulations of e-scooter riders in different scenarios. Working with RNIB, a group of people, including blind and partially sighted, will be asked to identify when they are first aware of the e-scooter, and provide feedback on the suitability and preference of the three sounds.

“We are testing a series of carefully designed e-scooter sounds to find the right balance between maximum vehicle noticeability and minimum noise pollution,” said Dr Antonio J Torija Martinez, Principal Investigator from the University of Salford.

“Using virtual reality to create immersive and realistic scenarios, in a safe and controlled laboratory environment, will allow us to achieve robust results. By working closely with the RNIB and blind associations across Europe, we can ensure that the sound we develop is the best fit for their needs.”

Tests are taking place in London, before being repeated in Italy, Sweden and Spain in collaboration with blind associations across Europe.

The trials in different countries will ensure international relevance with the aim of creating a global standard for an e-scooter sound.

“Light electric vehicles emit virtually no sound,” said Robin Spinks, RNIB Head of Inclusive Design.

“Imagine for a second how terrifying this could be if they are used irresponsibly for someone with little or no sight. We’re working with multiple stakeholders across the transport industry to bring about sustainable improvements in safety, perceivability and awareness. Operators, researchers, and regulators must all collaborate to ensure a more inclusive urban environment for all.”

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