With no engine sound, the electric Jaguar I-Pace required a new way to warn blind, visually-impaired and other vulnerable road users it approaches at low speeds.
Jaguar has designed the Audible Vehicle Alert System (AVAS) for its first electric car that, the company said, meets all forthcoming global legislations. This artificial sound can be heard at speeds up to 20kph, and exceeds the 56dB(A) minimum required by forthcoming European legislation for all new EVs from July 2019.
The company, in a statement to the media, added that the I-Pace’s sound was tested by members of Guide Dogs for the Blind, the UK’s leading charity for people affected by sight loss, as part of the testing undertaken by Jaguar.
Iain Suffield, Jaguar NVH technical specialist, said, “The absence of traditional engine noise from EVs 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 AVAS for the I-Pace to ensure the safety of road users. This potentially life-saving tech cannot be switched off.”
Jaguar’s engineers worked for four years to develop a soundtrack that is audible yet discreet and cannot be heard from inside the vehicle. Interestingly, initial attempts to create a noise inspired by the sound of sci-fi spacecraft had to be shelved after pedestrians reacted by looking up to the sky, rather than at the road, as the vehicle approached. AVAS is emitted from a speaker located behind the front grille, and can be heard in every direction. The alert increases in pitch and volume in line with the speed of the vehicle and, when in reverse, is accompanied by an additional tone that indicates the change in direction. AVAS, the company added, is not required at higher speeds as there is sufficient wind and tyre noise for pedestrians to hear the vehicle approaching.
Jaguar unveiled the I-Pace earlier this year; it’s a five-seater SUV and is fitted with a 90kWh lithium-ion battery. It goes from 0-100kph in 4.5 seconds and has a range of up to 470-km (WLTP).