Jaguar Worked With The Visually Impaired To Add Noise To Its Electric I-Pace

Cars make noise. Or at least conventional cars, with internal combustion engines, do. But electric vehicles don’t. And that’s not unfortunate not only for those of us who cherish the sound of a performance car, but for pedestrians and other road users who rely on sound to tell when a vehicle’s approaching. And it’s especially dangerous for the visually impaired.

That’s why Jaguar worked with Guide Dogs for the Blind to develop an Audible Vehicle Alert System for its all-electric I-Pace crossover. The system emits specially designed sounds from behind the grille at low speeds to give an audible cue that a vehicle is in motion nearby.

And it’s not just a flat sound, either, or a consistent chirp. Jaguar’s AVAS caters its pitch and volume along with the vehicle’s speed, and adds an additional tone when it’s turning. It can’t be disengaged, but only works at speeds below 12.5 mph (20 km/h), above which the wind and tire noise are deemed sufficient to warn of the vehicle’s approach.

“The absence of traditional engine noise from electric vehicles creates a problem for vulnerable pedestrians, such as the blind or visually impaired,” explained Jaguar NVH engineer Iain Suffield. “We developed the Audible Vehicle Alert System for the I-PACE to ensure the safety of all road users. Our potentially life-saving technology cannot be switched off and as the leading charity for people with sight loss, we are pleased to have the support of Guide Dogs to ensure real people are at the heart of our product testing.”

The technology was developed in conjunction with the charitable organization for the blind over the course of four years, and already exceeds European regulations, mandating a noise of at least 56 dB(A), set to come into effect in July 2019.

Why did it take so long to develop? The automaker initially experimented with a sound “closer to a sci-fi spacecraft”, but found that pedestrians reflexively looked upwards towards the sky. So they went back to the audio drawing board, as it were, and tested different sounds in anechoic chambers and various urban scenarios until they arrived at the right combination of noises.

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  • Jay

    Mind as well just giver an engine sound. vroom vroom. I’d be the one take the sounds from video game cars and use those instead.

    • Ken Lyns

      The treehuggers that buy these can’t accept that.

    • Mike anonymous

      What if you could customize the sound? So when you drive your vehicle could sound like one of the cars from Mario Cart, or maybe something else, as you drive along.

      I’m not sure if you meant to be sarcastic, but I think this would actually be a neat idea.

      • Jay

        I was serious.

  • S3XY

    Doesn’t protect anybody. You’re the driver. If you see someone you wait. Simple.

    All these noises sound lame. Only noise that ever sounded good was the Fisker Karma’s.

    And all cars have a standard noise generator, it’s called the stereo.

    • Matt

      You can’t necessarily hear the stereo from outside the car, and not everybody listens to loud music.

    • Mike anonymous

      Ok, while I do disagree regarding the fact it doesn’t help anybody, it actually would come in handy for a wide range of people (example: visually impaired, newcomers to alternative energy vehicles, etc),.. I am EXTREMELY happy that you mentioned the Fisker Karma here (as they were the first to implement a feature like that).

      That vehicle had an amazing sound. (Fun: fact, the same man who designed the sound for the Fisker Karma, designed the sound for the Bat Mobile).

    • Marty

      Nonsense, you will not wait. If people don’t know you are there, they will not move.

      Of course this will protect people. Everyone who has ever ridden a bike knows that no matter how careful you drive, people who can’t hear you coming will act in unpredictable ways and even jump right into your way.

      As a matter of fact, this is a non-issue. In a few years people will not even believe we even discussed it because they will think that this is just how cars sound.

    • ➡️ProtectOurHeritage⬅️

      Absolute rubbish. If the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity says it works, then it is good enough for most. You managed to move out of your parent’s basement and save up enough money for that Tesla yet?


    • Marty

      As soon as you get up to speed, an electric car will be as noisy as a combustion car.
      This is for speeds below 20 km/h when some kind of intuitive audio cue is needed, and since there will be no lower frequencies like in combustion engines the noise will not travel further than it needs.

    • ➡️ProtectOurHeritage⬅️

      You are unable to construct proper sentences so you seek attention by writing in CAPSLOCK.

  • Howfarr

    Since when do blind people just walk out into the road anyway?
    They rely on pedestrian crossings, asking people, and guide dogs that aren’t trained to recognize the sound of car anyway.

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