Your e-scooter may need to make fake 'engine' noises

The best electric scooters
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Electric scooters in the UK are being modified to make a humming noise, alerting pedestrians to their presence. Hire company Voi is the first to introduce the artificial sounds in three cities, but the noises could soon be a requirement throughout the UK.

Many electric scooters already come with a bell or horn that riders can use to alert those around them, but those in Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool supplied by hire company Voi will soon emit a constant sound. Voi told TechRadar that this is a pilot scheme that will help the company make an informed decision about whether introducing a sound is beneficial, and what type of sound would be most appropriate.

Tier, another of the world's biggest scooter hire companies, is also adding artificial sounds to its vehicles, and plans to roll them out this year.

E-scooters are currently illegal to ride in the UK unless they're on private land, or are part of an authorized hire scheme, so making modifications is a simple matter of taking to the city's provider, but privately-owned scooters could be much more difficult to deal with.

That's not to say that companies like Pure Electric (maker of our current top-rated scooter, the Pure Air Pro) won't rise to the challenge if and when it becomes legal to ride your own scooter on public roads and cycle paths – and they could even have some fun with it.

The buzz on the streets

Electric car makers have to contend with the same problem, and in 2019 the EU introduced legislation that requires electric cars to make some sort of noise when traveling at low speeds or reversing, which is intended to help alert pedestrians in areas like car parks.

Some companies seized this as an opportunity to get creative (opens in new tab), particularly for self-driving concept cars. After the legislation passed, Citroen began experimenting with jaunty tunes for its and Mercedes-Benz collaborated with Linkin Park (opens in new tab) to create a custom sound with 'emotion'.

Voi is starting with a hum, but (like it or not) if other companies decide to get imaginative, the streets could soon by a weird symphony of scooters.

Via BBC (opens in new tab)

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)