- Audible assistance praised by guide-dog group
- Spacecraft-movie engine sounds were tested…
- …reality is a whine that increases with speed
CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Silence is not always golden… particularly for the visually impaired as they try to get around their neighbourhood and even farther afield.
The arrival of mostly silent battery-powered cars, motor-cycles and, eventually, heavy vehicles, will add to the danger as the lack of engine noise negates one of the human senses that can identify danger.
Automaker Jaguar has realised this and acted, given the imminent arrival of its electric I-Pace cars in South Africa, with a so far unique Audible Vehicle Alert System (Jaguar’s capital letters) to warn the visually impaired and other vulnerable road users of its approach.
Jaguar says this its first battery car meets or exceeds all forthcoming global legislation with a sound, audible at up to 20km/h, that exceeds the 56dB minimum that will be required by European legislation from July 2019.
The I-Pace’s sound was tested by Guide Dogs for the Blind, the UK’s leading charity for people affected by sight loss. It also marks the start of an on-going relationship between the two organisations.
Iain Suffield, Jaguar’s ”noise, vibration and harshness” specialist, told The Corner in a media release: “The absence of engine noise from electric vehicles will be a problem for visually impaired pedestrians, especially in a busy town centre or a car park.
”The technology cannot be switched off.”
Jaguar spent four years seeking an audible, yet discreet, warning sound. Early experiments used the sound of a sci-fi spacecraft but that made people look skywards. Hmm, not much good then…
Eventually Jaguar settled on a sound from a speaker mounted behind the grille which increases in pitch and volume as the car’s speed increases. Reversing adds a tone that indicates the change in direction.
APPLAUSE FOR JAGUAR
Jaguar believes such warnings will not be required at higher speeds: the warning will be generated, the automaker says through ”sufficient wind and tyre noise”.
John Welsman from Guide Dogs for the Blind said: “Guide Dogs campaigned hard to make it compulsory for quiet vehicles to have a sound-generation system. app;auseWe applaud Jaguar for being the first.”
He did not say whether or not guide-dog training would include identification of the sound.
The i-Pace has a 90kWh lithium-ion battery, two Jaguar-designed electric motors, and an aluminium body, and is claimed to have a possible range of 470km.
The cars will be in South African Jaguar showrooms in the first half of 2019.