With the silent propulsion of an electric vehicle often sold as a positive, for some road users, the noiseless car can be a problem. Jaguar Land Rover has sought to solve this issue for vulnerable road users such as the visually impaired by developing a unique warning system for the new I-Pace EV.
Jaguar has developed an Audible Vehicle Alert System (AVAS) to be used in its first EV which emits a sound that can be heard at speeds up to 20km/h and is above 56dB(A).
The system was designed in response to new European legislation which is set to come into effect from July 2019 and requires new electric vehicles to be heard.
Members of Guide Dogs for the Blind in the UK have assisted in testing the I-Pace’s new sound with John Welsman, Policy Business Partner (Travel & Mobility), Guide Dogs for the Blind, saying:  “Guide Dogs campaigned hard to make it compulsory for quiet vehicles to have sound generating systems built in and turned on, including when the vehicle is stationary at a pedestrian crossing.”
“We applaud Jaguar for being the first to launch an EV which meets standards before the new legislation even comes in and look forward to working with the company more in the future.”
Iain Suffield, Jaguar NVH Technical Specialist, said: “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” he added.
After four years of development Jaguar engineers have developed a soundtrack that is discreet yet audible enough to alert people nearby, however it cannot be heard inside the vehicle.
During development, engineers tested sci-fi spacecraft-like sounds which eventually had to be scrapped due to pedestrians repeatedly looking to the skies rather than the approaching vehicle on the road. Engineers also spent time testing the final sound in a variety of environments such as urban scenarios and a special echo-free room known as an anechoic chamber.
The I-Pace emits its sound from a speaker located behind the front grille which can be heard in every direction (but not inside the cabin). As the speed of the vehicle increases so too does the pitch and volume of the alert. An additional tone also indicates when the vehicle is reversing.
The new Jaguar I-Pace is available to order in Australia now priced from $119,000 plus on-road costs.
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