E-scooter provider Voi is installing sound on e-scooters in three cities to combat pavement riding and help protect pedestrians with sight loss as part of the trial of e-scooters across the UK.
Voi engineers have designed a bespoke ‘low hum’ which will be added to Voi’s bright coral e-scooters to alert other road users that an e-scooter is approaching.
The noise replicates the types of artificial engine noise introduced on electric cars in recent years and can be adapted and improved by Voi, based on feedback from users and the visually impairment community.
The news comes after a recent survey revealed that most Brits believe e-scooters should have audio signals for people with disabilities.
By August, Voi aims to add sound to 60 e-scooters in Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol.
The micromobility company will be running in-person testing events with sight loss organisations and local authorities to get their feedback on the sound in a real-world environment.
Voi will be working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to manage the sessions as part of a wider collaboration to ensure people with sight loss are not adversely affected by e-scooter pilots.
The e-scooter sound pilot will run alongside a formal written consultation to gather feedback from visual impairment organisations, local authorities and police forces regarding the use of artificial vehicle alert systems. Voi will also reach out to Voi riders via email, prompting a questionnaire to identify whether the sound impacted the user experience.
At the end of the three months, Voi will work with the RNIB to assess the feedback and publish its findings.
Jack Samler, general manager at Voi UK and Ireland, said: “Electric engines on e-scooters, like those on electric cars and buses, are extremely quiet which can be unnerving to other road users. By adding an appropriate sound we can hopefully improve the safety of our operations for all road users, including those who are vulnerable because of sight loss. “This is the latest pilot as part of our partnership with the RNIB to address mobility issues faced by blind and partially sighted people. We’re looking forward to testing the new sound in the West of England, Birmingham and Liverpool and evaluating the impact it has during the trials.”
Robin Spinks, RNIB Strategic Lead Innovation Partnerships, said: “We are collaborating with the industry to create solutions which are sensitive to the needs of blind and partially sighted people. An audible warning is one such solution and we look forward to receiving feedback from the community.”