UCL & London E-scooter Operators Develop ‘Universal Sound’

UCL and London e-scooter operators team up to develop ‘universal sound’ for e-scooters in the capital.

Collaboration: UCL & London E-Scooter Operators

UCL’s specialist Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory (PEARL), together with London’s e-scooter operators TIER, Lime and Dott, have today announced that they are partnering to research and develop a ‘universal sound’ for rental e-scooters to alert pedestrians and other roads users of their approach.

Professor Nick Tyler, Director, UCL 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.”


Endorsed by TFL

Building on existing work by all three operators, the sound will be developed in London, kicking off next month, in an approach endorsed by TfL. London’s e-scooter operators have the joint ambition of developing and trialling a universal sound that could help improve safety across the entire e-scooter industry, helping road users and particularly people with sight loss to identify a rental e-scooter regardless of its operator or make. Research is expected to produce a sound which can be tested by operators in London this year, attaining an industry standard and ultimately scaling up to other cities in the UK and beyond.


Working with Disability Experts

The joint initiative is an industry first and follows extended engagement with disability experts and access consultants, including Transport for All,Thomas Pocklington Trust and Royal National Institute of Blind people. The sound will take into account the needs of individuals including those with sight loss, hearing loss and neurodiverse conditions. It will be ethically tested at the PEARL research facility, which can create different city environments, before testing on the street, to ensure it works for individuals in real-world settings.

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.

“We are really excited to collaborate with Lime and Dott on this initiative and to deliver an inclusive e-scooter service in London, but we don’t want to stop there. At TIER we believe the adoption of a universal sound for all e-scooters is crucial to our ambition of transforming cities around the world and raising safety standards across the whole e-scooter sector. That’s why we’re going to lead the charge for a universal sound for e-scooters, starting here in the UK.”