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British car manufacturer, Jaguar has developed a new sound warning system for their upcoming I-PACE all-electric SUV, to ensure that visually-impaired and other vulnerable road users are alerted when the vehicle is approaching. The system is a walkaround to the silent operational characteristics of an EV, without having to use the rather loud horn.
Coined as AVAS or Audible Vehicle Alert System, the new technology from Jaguar has been developed by the engineers after taking a range of road and acoustic conditions into consideration. The technology is expected to come in EVs from other brands too (in their own format), in the near future.
The sound can be heard at speeds up to 20km/h and exceeds the 56dB requirement put forward by the European legislation for all new electric vehicles. The new rule will come into effect from July 2019.
The technology was tested by the members of Guide Dogs for the Blind — a leading charity organisation in the UK for the visually-challenged. AVAS also initiates a new relationship between the automotive brand and the charity organisation.
The engineers at Jaguar has worked for more than four years to develop the right soundtrack properties — discretely audible only from the outside. At the nascent stage of the project, the team developed a noise resembling that of a Sci-Fi aircraft but that made the pedestrians look up rather than on the road, when the vehicle approached.
Finally, after testing sounds in various environments including an anechoic chamber (echo-free room), the correct audio was developed. The sound is emitted from a speaker behind the front grille. The audio can be heard from every direction and cannot be muted.
Depending on the vehicle speed, the pitch and volume change accordingly. While the vehicle is taking a reverse, an additional tone is produced to indicate the change in direction. Furthermore, the system is not required to function on higher speeds since tyre and wind noises would be enough to warn about the vehicle's approach.
Iain Suffield, Jaguar NVH Technical Specialist, shared, "The absence of traditional engine noise from electric vehicles creates a problem for vulnerable pedestrians, such as the blind or visually impaired. This is especially true at low speeds in town centres and car parks. 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."
Thoughts On Jaguar's Audible Vehicle Alert System On The I-PACE
Although the silent nature of electric vehicles or EVs can be considered as an advantage, there are situations in which it can prove otherwise. Many foundations for the blind have tried to make it compulsory for ‘quiet' vehicles to have some sources of sound, even when on a standstill. Jaguar is the first brand to listen to their request as more brands, including Tesla, are expected to follow the same path.