THOR supports the new initiative of TIER
As the Largest European e-scooter operator, TIER* has a social responsibility toward the users and the rest of the citizens. E-scooters can be dangerous to pedestrians and other vehicles and can also be dangerous to their users. Besides, another concern of these kind of services is parking; in the beginning, the legislation didn’t regulate the parking of these vehicles, which was a big problem for the cities.
Renting an e-scooter is generally simple and easy to use; most companies developed apps for users to download to their cellphones. Once the apps have been successfully installed, everything is handled via them. Renting one of these vehicles is easy, cheap, and straightforward; the charge usually consists of a small fixed fee and a price per minute that varies depending on the city. The vehicles are regularly picked, charged, and maintained by employees of these companies.
TIER was one of the first e-scooter operators that started developing programs to make their vehicles safer. For example, TIER was one of the first companies to install indicator lights, shock absorbers, and larger front wheels on their scooters and a system that makes them stop working when users try to drive them in areas where riding e-scooters is forbidden. Besides, they have reinforced the brakes to reduce their vehicles’ stopping distance.
Unfortunately, it’s a known fact that the lack of legislation and the sense of impunity of some of these vehicles’ drivers, added to the silent operation of the electric engines, has caused several accidents, some of them fatal. In 2020 TIER announced that it would be adding sound to its vehicles to alert people in the UK; especially blind and partially sighted persons. TIER partnered with the Thomas Pocklington Trust, a charity agency that supports blind and partially sighted people, to research and develop an effective sound system to alert visually impaired people about a small or micro electric vehicle coming toward them. TIER announced that they would have the system ready by 2021.
The e-scooter rental business in the UK is under the government’s permanent scrutiny; all the new companies that rent small electric vehicles are operating as part of a national trial program that has been extended until 2022 November 30th. The main goal of the trials is to study how these vehicles (e-scooters are the main focus of the program) impact on road security, society, and citizen’s mobility.
Since the trials started, the UK government has expanded the operation areas of rental e-scooters (private scooters have been banned in the UK). Between 2020 and 2021, a series of serious accidents involving e-scooters were in the public eye. The e-scooter rental business is in constant danger, and the accidents definitely don’t help.
In 2021, Dott and Lime, other e-scooter operators, expressed their concern about safety and joined TIER’s efforts to improve the security of their vehicles to solve, among other issues, the dangers of silence.
The idea is to give all scooters the same distinctive sound to let people know when they are approaching. Whether a scooter comes from Dott, TIER, Lime, or another company is irrelevant for people; they need to identify an e-scooter coming. That’s why the top e-scooter operators in the UK, along with a group of acoustic researchers, are working to develop a universal sound for these vehicles. University College London’s laboratories with data collected by the e-scooter operators in London have been selected to develop the new sound in the hope of setting an industry standard for the UK.
The sound must be distinctive to alert people with sight loss without creating sound contamination and confusing people with hearing loss and neurodiverse problems.
After the sounds have been created, they will be tested at UCL’s Person-Environment-Activity Research laboratory. “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. It’s 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,” said professor Nick Tyler, the facility’s director.
TIER executives are convinced that developing an inclusive sound for e-scooters will be crucial to protect pedestrians and road users. The University of Salford also developed a standalone system with variable noises reflecting speed. As the new system is being tested, Dr. Antonio Torija Martines, an acoustic researcher at this University, said that they continue developing warning sounds looking forward to finding an “optimal balance between noticeability and annoyance”.
As e-scooters’ trials are being run across the UK, the multimillionaire business of rental scooters is in constant danger. A negative result would end up stopping these companies’ operation in the whole country, and it would incline other countries towards banning e-scooters too. As the trials have been extended to November 2022, it seems that anything could happen.
Adding sound to silent electric vehicles is important for everyone’s safety. At about the same time, Thor AVAS, an independent technological firm, has been developing intelligent warning sound systems for all kinds of vehicles.
Besides, Thor AVAS has know-how and technology knowledge for creation the unique sounds for cities’ electric public transport and shared mobility, and they put special attention for testing the auditability of such sounds when installed on the vehicles. They can also help the authorities to define regulatory norms and to develop acoustic sound orientation programs for cities.
The TIER initiative in London is a very interesting large-scale project, but it’s important to know that there are private companies capable of doing this kind of work and that they can cooperate with all parties involved to develop a special sound concept for e-vehicle operators, but also for a whole city.
Shared e-mobility is a great solution to reduce traffic problems, emission of pollutants, and noise pollution, but it can’t be to the detriment of people’s safety. In regard to sound, companies don’t have to deal with bureaucracy and red tape. Shared mobility companies don’t have to deal with governments and universities to add intelligent sounds to their electric vehicles:
The solution is as simple as reaching a technology company like Thor AVAS; they have everything covered and the know-how to do an excellent job in less time, without any intermediaries.
Hopefully, thanks to intelligent sound solutions, e-scooters will continue to grow, improving cities' mobility without putting lives in danger.
* TIER Mobility SE is a German e-scooter, moped, and bicycle rental company. Founded in 2018, the company is one of the world's largest operators of this new way of transport.
TIER's operation is expanding worldwide, and as it grows, it has to deal with the demanding trials all shared mobility companies are enduring in the UK.