It's pretty much agreed upon, that alongside electric cars and an efficient electric-powered mass transportation system, personal electric mobility devices such as e-scooters and e-bikes are paving the way for future mobility. Of course, alongside this would be further enhancing these mobility devices to be inclusive for all people in society.
Of course, it goes without saying that safety is the main priority, and that includes not just the safety of the user, but of surrounding road-users and pedestrians alike. The scenario isn't that hard to imagine, especially given today's highly connected and on-the-go generation. This is amplified by the fact that personal electric mobility deices will be used in close proximity to pedestrians. Because of this, the growing number of e-scooter accidents, particularly in crowded European cities like Paris, isn't really all too surprising.
That being said, it's hard to point a finger on who's to blame in situations like this. On the one hand riding an e-scooter isn't exactly something anyone can pick-up in the blink of an eye—it requires a certain degree of skill—balance and coordination. On the other hand, pedestrians who walk around with their eyes glued to their mobile phones can all too easily become oblivious to their surroundings. Not to mention, this is especially true for people with disabilities, such as vision impairment. So, what if there was a way for pedestrians and other road users to be alerted of the arrival of an e-scooter.
This is one of the many reasons why major players in the e-scooter industry in Europe are working together to develop a standardized sound for e-scooters to emit in order to alert road users about their presence. Dott, a Dutch company with a focus on responsible micro-mobility, as well as researchers from the University of Salford in the U.K., and the Unione Italiana dei Ciechi e degli Ipovedenti (UICI), or the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired are all working together on this project.
As of this writing, the specifics of the project aren't specifically laid out just yet, however, the organizations intend to develop and implement at least three warning sounds for electric scooters. As mentioned, the goal is to increase their "visibility," or rather, increase alertness of people in areas where a lot of people ride electric scooters. The end goal is develop a global standard that all electric scooter manufacturers would adhere to—sounds that will eventually become familiar to all people across the globe.
Real-world tests are reportedly being conducted, with the teams trying to pinpoint warning sounds that don't necessarily contribute to noise pollution, but alert road-users about the presence of an e-scooter. Test participants include pedestrians, scooter users, and even blind and visually impaired individuals. Participants will be immersed in a simulated 360-degree environment, and make use of a virtual reality headset.
If they're trying to pinpoint multiple sounds, perhaps it may be best to have a different sound for multiple scenarios. For example, when traveling in high foot-traffic areas, the scooters could make a ticking sound to alert pedestrians. Meanwhile, while traveling at speed on designated paths, they could make a whirring sound like a spaceship. What kind of sound do you think e-scooters should make?