It has been revealed that the Audible Vehicle Alert System (AVAS) fitted to the Jaguar I-Pace electric car is the first to have been specifically tuned for the visually impaired.
Many electric cars already emit a noise to warn pedestrians of their presence, and AVAS systems are set to become a legal requirement when European legislation comes into effect in 2019.
The sound emitted by the I-Pace was developed and tested with help from members of UK charity Guide Dogs for the Blind and exceeds the 56dB(A) minimum volume level required by the upcoming EU rules.
"We developed the Audible Vehicle Alert System for the I-Pace to ensure the safety of all road users," Jaguar NVH technical specialist Iain Suffield said. “Our potentially life-saving technology cannot be switched off, and we are pleased to have the support of Guide Dogs, as the leading charity for people with sight loss, to ensure real people are at the heart of our product testing.”
The system is permanently enabled and activates at speeds of up to 12mph, with sound generated from a speaker hidden behind the car's front grille. The alert rises in pitch and volume as speed increases, and an additional tone indicates a change in direction when the car is put in reverse.
AVAS systems are not legally required at higher speeds, as wind noise and road noise are deemed to be sufficient warnings of an approaching car.
According to Jaguar, the sound can't be heard by the driver and passengers inside the I-Pace. It took four years to develop, with initial plans for a spaceship-style noise shelved after test subjects looked up to the sky instead of the road.